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Humor beats disease, researchers find

13 years, 5 months ago

2760  0
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.

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