April 17, 2009 -- Laughter could have serious heart benefits for people with diabetes, a new study shows.
The study comes from Lee Berk, DrPH, MPH, of Loma Linda University and Stanley Tan, MD, PhD, of Oak Crest Health Research Institute in Loma Linda, Calif.
All of the patients got routine medical care. In addition, the researchers asked half of the patients to choose a funny video to watch for at least 30 minutes a day. "They could watch more if they wanted to," Berk tells WebMD via email. He adds that the patients chose from TV shows and movies, picking whatever they thought would make them laugh. "We could/should not determine what was 'funny' for them," Burk says.
Those patients made up the laughter group; the other patients served as a comparison group.
During the yearlong study, the patients got blood tests every two months.
After only two months, the patients in the laughter group had a better HDL ("good") cholesterol level than the patients in the comparison group. Four months into the study, the laughter group had lower blood levels of certain inflammatory chemicals.
Those patterns could mean a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, note Berk and Tan, who are presenting their results in New Orleans at the American Physiological Society's annual meeting, which is part of Experimental Biology 2009.