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The Hindu
17 April 2009
London, UK

As the saying goes, laughter is the best form of medicine. And, now researchers have claimed that just 30 minutes of guffaw a day is adequate to keep your heart healthy.

A new study by Loma Linda University has revealed that watching half–an–hour of comedy everyday can reduce a person's levels of stress hormones as well as compounds that are linked to heart disease.

“The best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope,” the Daily Mail quoted lead researcher Dr Lee Berk as saying.

The researchers came to the conclusion after analysing 20 men and women taking medication for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. All took their tablets as usual but half were also prescribed “Mirthful laughter” in the form of 30 min of comedy every day.

Stress hormone levels fell in the comedy viewers after two months. By four months, levels of compounds linked to hardening of the arteries and other cardiac problems had also dropped, while levels of “Good” cholesterol – thought to protect against heart disease –rose by 26 per cent.

Patients who took the medication without any extra laughter had just a 3 per cent rise. The group watching comedy programmes also saw a drop of 66 percent in harmful C–reactive proteins, which increase the risk of heart disease.

While the control group also saw a fall in the amount of the proteins, it was much smaller at 26 per cent over the course of the year.

The findings are presented at the Experimental Biology conference in New Orleans.

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