From the Department of Health Myths Busted: New research suggests laughter is not always the best medicine.
The study, reported by The New York Times
, found laugher can cause a number of harmful effects. The force of laughing can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks, cause headaches, make hernias protrude, provoke cardiac arrhythmia, syncope, or even emphysema.
The analysis, drawn from about 5,000 studies, was published in BMJ
, formerly known as The British Medical Journal
, which traditionally features light-hearted articles in its Christmas issue.
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Tony Delamothe, M.D., the journal’s deputy editor, told The Times the study was indeed peer-reviewed — presumably by a doctor with an evident sense of humor. Companion studies in the issue included "Were James Bond's drinks shaken because of alcohol-induced tremor? " and "The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: cover observational study."
The new study did take an even-handed approach to laughter, noting it has been shown to reduce anger, anxiety and stress; ease cardiovascular tension, blood glucose concentration, and risk of myocardial infarction.
"The benefit-harm balance," the authors wrote, "is probably favorable."