December 25, 2013

Laugh only in moderation

Just in time to protect patients from the dangers of holiday cheer, a new scholarly review from a British medical journal describes many harmful effects wrought by laughter. 

Among the alarms it sounds: The force of laughing can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks, cause headaches, make hernias protrude. It can provoke cardiac arrhythmia, syncope or even emphysema (this last, according to a clinical lecturer in 1892). 

At the very least, the new review could be considered an affirmation for the perpetually dour. If 2013 was the year of the worried well, the authors imply that 2014 is poised to be the year of the humorless healthy.
Despite such a comprehensive look at the medical literature on laughter, Dr. Ferner felt there was still territory to be charted. “We don’t know how much laughter is safe,” he said. “There’s probably a U-shaped curve: laughter is good for you, but enormous amounts are bad, perhaps. It’s not a problem in England.”
 Who says laughter's the best medicine

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