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 » Blog Bipolar journey » Talk Heart to heart forum » Quiz Are you a hypochondriac? » This video of a school choir singing Pharrell's "Happy" will make your day Helping HIV-positive kids in South Africa 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 "House of Horrors" - What made him do it? More: Mental healthNews advertisement Get a quote Momentum - save up to 35% on healthcare advertisement Read Health24’s Comments Policy Comment on this story 0 comments Add your comment Thank you, your comment has been submitted. Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Logout Comment 0 characters remaining Share on Facebook Loading comments... Other news News Doctor leading Ebola fight contracts disease himself Medical SA to start HIV+ patients on antiretrovirals sooner Medical Gut bacteria suffer when hit with infection Medical High-salt diets can cause heart woes in diabetics News SA youth want drinking age lowered Medical Drinking alcohol lessens your chance of developing arthritis From our sponsors A number of good reasons why saving the tooth is a better option Breakfast like a King Alzheimer’s disease – incurable but preventable Cancer is a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many. Live healthier Yoga » Exercise time? Yoga mats matter Yoga and sleep What yoga can do for you Yoga is a stress-buster, but it also helps with anxiety, depression, insomnia, back pain and other ills. Allergy alert » Allergy myths Cold or allergy? Children and allergies Allergy facts vs. fiction Some of the greatest allergy myths and misconceptions can actually be damaging to your health.