May 28, 2003 -- Diabetes isn't funny. But the newest way to improve diabetes treatment is a hoot.
The findings bear out the advice of Norman Cousins, the famous editor widely known as "the man who laughed his way to health." Laughter, he said, is a form of internal jogging. He was right, according to a study by Keiko Hayashi, PhD, RN, of the University of Tsukuba in Ibaraki, Japan.
Hayashi's team collected blood-sugar measurements from 19 people with type 2 diabetes before and two hours after a meal. After dinner on the first day, the patients attended a boring 40-minute lecture. No jokes were told. On the second day, the same dinner was followed by a 40-minute comedy show (manzai, a popular form of stand-up comedy in Japan).
The patients laughed well. They rated their laughter as 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale. Their after-meal blood sugar went up after the comedy show -- but much less than it did after the lecture. Even in healthy subjects without type 2 diabetes, a similar response to the laughter was seen.
Laughter, the scientists conclude, is good for people with diabetes. They suggest that chemical messengers made during laughter may help the body compensate for the disease.
Therefore, Hayashi and colleagues say, people with diabetes should laugh every day. Well, they don't really say it that way. They put it in scientific jargon.
"In conclusion," they write, "the present study elucidates the inhibitory effect of laughter on the increase in postprandial [after meal] blood glucose and suggests the importance of daily opportunities for laughter in patients with diabetes."
That does seem funnier.