Doctors Look at Laughter in MIRTH Study
A "Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful" reveals that laughter can help you get pregnant, burn a lot of calories … or, on rare occasions, kill you.
In what he describes as the BMJ's first serious look at laughter since 1899, Robin Ferner and his colleague Jeff Aronson trawled through nearly 800 studies on laughter dating back to 1946. They synthesized them in a witty and light-hearted report on the health benefits and risks of a good hearty laugh.
"We are clinical pharmacologists who spend our days worrying about the benefits and harms of medicines," says Ferner. "We thought we might look elsewhere, and laughter—'the best medicine'—seemed a worthy candidate."
It wasn't easy. A search of the scientific databases using "laugh" as a search term turned up articles on the Caribbean sponge Prosuberites laughlini; papers written by researchers named Laughter, Laughing, Laughton, and McLaughlin; and an intriguing paper titled