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A Good, Healthy Laugh

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November 9, 2004

Albany-- How many times a day do you laugh? Not only does a good laugh make you feel better, it can actually have some immediate health benefits.

But are there long-term health benefits to laughter and a positive attitude? It's been said that laughter is the best medicine.

" It certainly makes you feel better," says Audrey Dozier.

"I think it is the best medicine in life," says Brenda McCullough.

But is it really?

"Now they have done studies where they look at just the physiological affects of laughing," says Dr. Nick Kilmer.

And when you laugh, "Usually it'll make your blood pressure go down, it helps you digest things, it helps increase your respiration and things like that," he says."

But does it reduce stress?

"It could be the people who have lower stress hormones tend to laugh more. So it's kind of the chicken or the egg thing," says Dr. Kilmer.

Some doctors suggest it takes more than just a good laugh.

"It's the people who have the kind of a better attitude, a more positive attitude.," says Dr. Kilmer.

A positive attitude that carried Brenda McCollough through a bilateral mastectomy. "I won't ever have to have mammography again and, number two, I probably lost a couple of pounds," says McCullough.

Her humor keeps her going. "As long as you can keep a smile on your face it makes everything very easy," she says.

"Whatever it is that makes up your positive attitude, if it's your sense of humor, if it's your faith or something else that you like to do, that will kind of take your mind off of your health problems," says Dr. Kilmer.

So how much of a role does our state of mind play in our overall health? One researcher gave colds to two groups of people.

Dr. Kilmer says, "The people with the positive attitudes and the people with the negative attitudes and it didn't really affect whether they got a cold or not, but it affected their perception of their illness."

While that may be all that doctors will conclude about the medical benefits of laughter and a good attitude, Audrey Dozier says, "I'd rather laugh than cry, anytime. "

It's important to have a good attitude and positive outlook. Even if there are no proven medical benefits, it will at least make you feel better. And that's what life is all about.

posted at 5:05PM by dawnh@walb.com