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Laughter Lowers Heart Disease Risk in Diabetics
By Daniel H. Rasolt
Posted: Saturday, April 18, 2009
(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- Laughing and being happy, accompanied by standard diabetic treatment, appears to help raise good cholesterol, lower inflammation, and decrease risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Diabetics are known to be at increased risk for a variety of other conditions, with a multitude of past research confirming the link between diabetes and CVD (heart attack and stroke). More fundamentally, diabetics often suffer from low good cholesterol (HDL), and high bad cholesterol (LDL), as well as high levels of blood vessel inflammation, and hyperlipidemia (high levels of lipid proteins in the blood), all major contributors to CVD.
The current study looked to build on past research that had suggested how laughter can benefit general health. For example, it's been observed that "mirthful laughter" increases endorphin levels (which promotes euphoria and relaxation), as well as human growth hormone, which helps in battling disease and muscle recovery. In addition, laughter has been shown to reduce three major "stress hormones," cortisol, epinephrine and dopac.
Twenty diabetics, considered to be at "high risk" for CVD due to a presence of both hypertension and hyperlipidemia, participated in the study. All were being treated equally for their conditions with standard medications for diabetes and the related problems, but were separated into control and laughter groups (appropriately labeled groups C and L). Individuals in group L would watch a humorous video of their own choosing, to accompany the standard therapy. The study took place over the course of one year, in which blood and stress tests were consistently taken.
Confirming past research, the individuals in group L were quickly seen to have lower stress levels. They were also seen to have lower levels of inflammation, and higher HDL levels. In fact, HDL levels were up 26% in group L patients at the end of the study. Levels of lipid proteins in the blood were also seen to decrease significantly in group L patients.
While the exact mechanism by which "mirthful" laughter improves these conditions was not investigated, and the nature of this proposed alternative therapy is not specific or empirical, the results do give a clear indication that laughter improves not only mood, but health, for diabetics. With diabetes being such a huge risk factor for CVD, diabetics should take note that finding time in their days to be happy, may actually save their lives.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Berk, Lee. Krupa, Donna. The American Physiological Society news release. April 2009.
Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.
Copyright © 2009 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.
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