Many people think laughter is good for your health. Just listening to someone’s laugh seems to be good for your health. Researchers in Japan recently tested this idea using mice. They recorded sounds made by mice when they were happy (laughing) and when they were distressed (crying). The researchers then played these sounds for groups of mice and found that the mice that listened to the happy sounds were healthier than those that listened to the distressed sounds.
The results of this study seem to support the belief that laughter can help patients fighting cancer and other diseases. Of course, laughter is not a substitute for treatment. However, laughter can help patients and their families as they confront a cancer diagnosis and treatment challenges. Therapy dogs bring smiles and happiness to children in the hospital. Young patients sometimes say or do things that make their doctors and family members laugh.
There is nothing funny about childhood cancer, but laughter can bring a smile to a patient’s face and may have a positive influence on his or her health and treatment. A child’s cancer diagnosis can lead family and friends to feel helpless. However, anyone can bring a smile to a child’s face — or even make him or her laugh. It will brighten the child’s day and may help more than you think.
Noriko Satake, M.D.
Dept. of Pediatrics