The epigenetic impact of laughter

Everyone has heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine” and most people would agree that they feel better after hearing or seeing something funny.  This observation has intrigued researchers to actually test the hypothesis in a laboratory setting and what they found was yet another instance in which one positive thing leads to another.  The study published in Biomedical Research was interested in seeing how laughter could affect blood sugar levels and gene expression in type 2 diabetics.  After having lunch, the participants were required to watch either a comedic video or an information session on type 2 diabetes.  Following the funny video, seven of the ten participants had a decrease in their blood sugars levels by an average of 37.4 mg/dL. 

Even more interesting, was that participants had 39 genes upregulated, many of which are key players in boosting the immune response.  Although we don’t typically think about the things we see or hear as potential regulators of gene expression, and considering that our health and longevity depends largely on how our genes are expressed, it really sheds light on the importance of being able to enjoy the lighter side of life more often.  One of the easiest ways to live out this principle is to take a 5 min break a couple times a day and read a joke, YouTube something funny, or simply spent time with people that make you laugh.