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It takes just 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown, but the smile can prove dangerous, if the new scholarly review from a British medical journal is believed.
The study says, the force of laughing can dislocate jaws, prompt asthma attacks, cause headaches, make hernias protrude. It can provoke cardiac arrhythmia, syncope or even emphysema. Laughter can also trigger the rare but possibly grievous Pilgaard-Dahl and Boerhaave’s syndromes Pilgaard-Dahl syndrome, identified in a 2010 article as a pneumothorax in middle-aged male smokers induced by laughter. It takes its name from Ulf Pilgaard and Lisbet Dahl, the Danish revue performers.
The analysis, “Laughter and MIRTH (Methodical Investigation of Risibility, Therapeutic and Harmful),” was drawn from about 5,000 studies. A deputy editor of the journal, Dr. Tony Delamothe, said that the MIRTH study was indeed peer-reviewed — presumably by a doctor with a carefully managed sense of humour.
In 1898, it had published a case study of heart failure in a 13-year-old girl following prolonged laughter. The next year, the laughter problem was raised again, when an editorial writer, in response to an Italian doctor’s suggestion that telling jokes could treat bronchitis, dismissively proposed the term “gelototherapy” (Gelos was the Greek god of laughter; in Italian, gelato is ice cream.).
The harms, however, have been scrutinized. A 1997 discussion of Boerhaave’s syndrome, a spontaneous perforation of the esophagus, a rare though potentially lethal event, mentioned that one unusual precipitating cause is laughter.
But laughter benefits include reduced anger, anxiety and stress; reduced cardiovascular tension, blood glucose concentration and risk of myocardial infarction.
“Are you willing to laugh it out.”