Home > Mental health > News Updated 13 December 2013 Laughter can be dangerous to some people Laughter may not be the best medicine after all and can even be harmful to some patients. 0 iStock Related Laughing yoga cultivates merry mindfulness Teaching the brain to process laughter Animals on a trampoline Ask CyberShrink » Talk Heart to heart forum » 13 hidden signs of stress Regenerative medicine: replacing brain cells lost from stroke Researchers from Birmingham and Oxford, in the UK, reviewed the reported benefits and harms of laughter. They used data published between 1946 and 2013. They concluded that laughter is a serious matter.They identified benefits from laughter; harms from laughter; and conditions causing pathological laughter.Some conditions benefit from 'unintentional' (Duchenne) laughter. Laughter can increase pain thresholds although hospital clowns had no impact on distress in children undergoing minor surgery (even though they were in stitches). Laughter reduces arterial wall stiffness, which the researchers suggest may relieve tension. And it lowered the risk of heart attack, so "reading the Christmas BMJ could add years to your life".Clowns improved lung function in patients with COPD and 'genuine laughter' for a whole day could burn 2000 calories and lower the blood sugar in diabetics. Laughter also enhanced fertility: 36% of would-be mothers who were entertained by a clown after IVF and embryo transfer became pregnant compared with 20% in the control group.Adverse effects of laughterHowever, laughter can also have adverse effects. One woman with racing heart syndrome collapsed and died after a period of intense laughter and laughing 'fit to burst' was found to cause possible heart rupture or a torn gullet. A quick intake of breath during laughing can cause inhalation of foreign bodies and can provoke an asthma attack. Laughing like a drain can cause incontinence. And hernias can occur after laughing: rapture causing rupture.The authors' list conditions that cause pathological laughter and this may help in diagnosis. Epileptic seizures ("gelastic seizures") are the most common cause.The researchers say that their review challenges the view that laughter can only be beneficial but do add that humour in any form carries a "low risk of harm and may be beneficial". They conclude that it remains to be seen whether "sick jokes make you ill, dry wit causes dehydration or jokes in bad taste [cause] dysgeusia (distortion of sense of taste)". EurekAlert More in Mental health How your brain reads other people's faces More: Mental healthNews advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Comments have been closed for this article. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news Medical Omega-3 supplements could make antidepressants more effective Medical Focus on eating more heart-healthy foods rather than cutting out unhealthy ones Medical Paid sick leave reduces spread of flu Medical Hearing aids may keep seniors' minds sharp Medical Time of day may make flu shot more effective Mental health The three stress-busting basics you can’t afford to ignore From our sponsors The three stress-busting basics you can’t afford to ignore Detangle the myths from the facts Why you should try the cold or hot approach for sports-related injuries Head lice myth busters! Live healthier Coffee and wine for the win! » Could heartburn drugs upset your 'good' gut bacteria? Life is a gut reaction Good news! Coffee & wine may promote a healthy gut Diverse bacteria help your gut stay healthy. Here's how what you eat and drink can help or harm that balance - and it's not all bad news. I gave hubby HIV » Giving babies antibodies promptly may eliminate HIV Vaginal ring to prevent HIV on the cards I gave my husband HIV and watched him die Stephanie van Niekerk unwittingly infected her husband with HIV and ended up having to watch him wither and die in front of her very eyes. This is Stephanie's story in her own words.