Monday, January 16, 2006

Laughter Can Save You 30% On Medical Costs

It’s been said laughter is the best medicine, but no one has yet to prove it. Now a Japanese scientist is unlocking the secrets of the funny bone, which he believes can cheer up people’s genes.

Geneticist Kazuo Murakami has teamed up on the study with an unlikely research partner: stand-up comedians, who he hopes - no joke - can turn their one-liners into efficient, low-cost medical treatment.

Genes are usually regarded as immutable, but in reality more than 90 percent of them are dormant or less active in producing protein, so some types of stimulation can wake them up.

Murakami’s tentative theory is that laughter is one such stimulant, which can trigger energy inside a person’s DNA potentially helping cure disease.

"If we prove people can switch genes on and off by an emotion like laughter, it may be the finding of the century which should be worth the Nobel Prize or even go beyond that," said Murakami, 70, director of Japan’s Foundation for Advancement of International Science.

Three years ago, Murakami and Yoshimoto Kogyo Co. Ltd., a leading entertainment company, jointly carried out their first experiment to let diabetics laugh at a comedy show performed by the firm’s top stand-up comedians after listening to a monotonous college lecture.

The two-day experiment showed that their blood glucose levels - a key gauge for development of diabetes - became lower after they laughed compared with after listening to the yawning lecture.


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