Humor beats disease, researchers find11 years, 9 months ago
Posted on Feb 13, 2007, 7 a.m.
By Bill Freeman
Scientists are reporting what they say is most direct evidence to date that having a sense of humor can save your life.
People hit by severe diseases have better survival chances if they can laugh easily, according to the study, published in the current issue of The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine.
The scientists are from the Norwegian University of Science and St. Olav’s Hospital in Trondheim, Norway.
To recruit participants for the study, the researchers invited all patients known to have chronic kidney failure during a recent January in Sør-Trøndelag County, Norway, where Trondheim lies.
The patients, severely ill, depended for survival on weekly dialysis, which cleans the blood of substances that the kidneys would normally filter out. “This diagnosis is a life-threatening condition that calls upon coping skills and regular dialysis,” the investigators wrote.
Forty-one of these 52 invitees joined the study, for which they answered questions about their age, gender, education and quality of life. They also answered questions designed to gauge their propensity to laugh. For instance, a question would describe a situation that different people might see as either comical or annoying; the participant would be asked whether he or she would likely laugh.
If the patient belonged to the half of the group that scored higher on sense of humour, he or she “increased their odds for survival by on average 31 percent,” independent of other known health characteristics, the researchers wrote.
Previous research has found that laughter may be good for the heart. In 2000, cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore announced that they had found heart disease patients were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.