Pleasure keeps diseases at bay

IT IS the news chocaholics have been waiting for: chocolate is good for you. The only problem is you have to sniff it, not eat it.

Scientists have discovered that chocolate causes so much pleasure that the immune system works harder, attacking diseases and infections.

Research shows just how powerful pleasure and happiness are in helping the immune system and keeping us healthy. Work by a team of academics and specialists shows that being happy and being healthy are far more closely linked than previously thought.

One of the team, Dr Angela Clow from the University of Westminster, in central London, has for the first time found a link between smells and the immune system.

She asked three groups of blindfolded volunteers to smell water, chocolate and rotten meat, and found that those who sniffed the chocolate secreted larger amounts of a powerful antibody, immunoglobulin A, proof that the immune system was working harder. In those who smelt rotten meat, the levels dropped and in those exposed to water it fell too.

The theory is that repeated exposure to pleasurable experiences leads to sustained higher levels of antibodies.