The most common cause of cancer is stress. Extreme physical, mental and emotional stress weakens our immune system, and a weak immune system is a major causative factor in the development of cancer. Scientific studies have proved that hearty laughter has a powerful and immediate strengthening effect on our immune system. Laughter quickly increases immunoglobulin levels that help fight infection and increases the number of Natural Killer Cells (NK cells) in the blood (NK cells play a key role in cancer prevention). Cancer patients find it very easy to laugh with Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness program as they provide a laughter delivery system that does not require medical clowns, joke books, funny videos or a sense of humor. It is widely accepted that laughter speeds healing and improves mental outlook in patients.
It is common for someone struck with cancer to experience intense stress and fear. How can laughter help? Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness program are a physical intervention that lead to real physiological and biochemical changes in our body that have a profound effect on the development of cancer.
- Laughter exercises provide a non-intellectual path to laughter. Cancer patients may be in emotional turmoil and become depressed, making it difficult for them to achieve laughter through intellectual stimuli like humorous videos. Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness program approach laughter as a body exercise that can easily be done regardless of mood.
- Laughter helps counter stress and fear. Hearty laughter causes the brain to release chemicals that reduce stress within minutes. It is typical to measure a 70% reduction in stress indicators after just 10 minutes of laughter.
- Laughter promotes a positive outlook. Hearty laughter quickly counters depression and negative outlook, especially when practiced within a group of peers. This is partly due to chemicals released by the brain and partly caused by a powerful emotional response to the group dynamics of laughter sessions. A positive mental state is very important when a person who is fighting a deadly disease like cancer.
- Dr. Michael B. Van Scoy-Morsher, an oncologist in California says that “one characteristic of the cancer patient who does well is the ability to often put cancer in the background for periods of time.“
- TV journalist Linda Ellerbee wrote about some of her cancer experiences “I think we are never braver than when we stand tall and look into the sun and laugh. Laughter may be a form of courage.“
- In his book “Intoxicated by My Illness,” Anatole Broyard wrote about the final months of his life after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He stated that “Illness is primarily a drama, and it should be possible to enjoy it as well as to suffer it. . . . . Illness,” after all, “is not all tragedy. Much of it is funny.“
- Laughter helps deal with pain. Hearty laughter causes the brain to release endorphin, a natural morphine that is also responsible for the â€˜runnerâ€™s highâ€™. A typical laughter session can provide two hours of pain relief without drugs, making it easier for patients to retian full control of their mental abilities and keep their spirits high.
- Laughter oxygenates the body. Ten minutes of heartyy laughter leaves the body and all major organs super-oxygenized. Ongoing cancer research shows a strong relationship between oxygen in our cells and the development of cancer. Nobel Prize winner (twice in the field of medicine) Dr Otto Warburg has shown the strong connection of oxygen in the cells to health. He says we fall sick due to lack of oxygen in our body cells. The lack of oxygen is due to poor breathing habits caused by stress and negative mindset. This causes us to breathe shallow, irregular breaths and hold are breath when under stress. Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness program train our diaphragm and abdominal muscles to breathe deeply. This increases the net supply of oxygen to body cells and can play a significant role in preventing cancer by increasing oxygen levels in the body cells.
- Laughter strengthens the immune system. Medical studies around the world have shown that a mere fifteen minutes of hearty laughter has a sudden and dramatically powerful effect in strengthening the immune system. Laughter Yoga and the Laughter Wellness program are the only forms of exercise that allow you to laugh heartily for fifteen minutes or more without involving the mind. Humor works as well, and it is much harder to laugh heartily (or even at all) on a regular basis with the exact same jokes or videos.
“Your body cannot heal without play. Your mind cannot heal without laughter. Your soul cannot heal without joy.” — Catherine Rippenger Fenwick
Laughter at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX)
To help cancer patients better cope with their diagnosis, the Place of wellness at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has added Laughter Yoga to its extensive list of complementary and integrative therapies.
Cancer Research On Laughter
33 healthy adult women were randomized to view either a humorous video or a tourism video (distraction group). Stress decreased for subjects in the humor group compared with those in the distraction group (p < 0.005). Amount of mirthful laughter was highly correlated with decrease in stress for persons in the humor group (p < 0.005). Subjects who scored greater than 25 on the humor response scale had increased immune function post intervention (p< 0.05). Humor response scale scores correlated with changes in NK cell activity (p = 0. 001).
CONCLUSION: Laughter may reduce stress and improve NK cell activity. As low NK cell activity is linked to decreased disease resistance and increased morbidity in persons with cancer and HIV disease, laughter may be a useful cognitive-behavioral intervention.
Bennett MP, Zeller JM, Rosenberg L, McCann J. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Mar-Apr;9(2):38-45.