Humour bypass

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The Independent Online

Laugh? We merely smiled when we heard that cardiologists from the University of Maryland have claimed at a conference in New Orleans that laughter may protect against heart attacks. In tests, people with heart disease were found to be 40 per cent less likely to laugh at something than people without heart disease. "The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," commented Dr Michael Miller, the research leader, before anyone else could.

Laugh? We merely smiled when we heard that cardiologists from the University of Maryland have claimed at a conference in New Orleans that laughter may protect against heart attacks. In tests, people with heart disease were found to be 40 per cent less likely to laugh at something than people without heart disease. "The old saying that 'laughter is the best medicine' definitely appears to be true when it comes to protecting your heart," commented Dr Michael Miller, the research leader, before anyone else could.

Happy news, then; but it raises some challenging questions. Wouldn't you find things less amusing if you were suffering from heart disease? Why, too, should those who find existence ridiculous live longer than those who take it seriously? And will the mottos in the crackers save us from the heart-threatening Christmas lunch we were warned about at the same conference?

Most fascinating of all, though, is that Dr Miller considers laughter "as learnt behaviour" to be as efficacious as the natural variety. Perhaps ranks of people laughing hollowly will soon be added to the other pleasures of a visit to the gym. Our advice: do yourself some good, shift your eyes to the right, and read Miles Kington.

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