National / Science & Health

Study to look at whether laughter is in fact the best medicine

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

An Osaka-based medical facility is looking to investigate whether laughter is indeed the best medicine, and whether it can be effective in treating cancer.

Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases said Wednesday that it plans to conduct a 4-month experiment to measure blood- and cell-level reactions before and after watching comedy performances.

There is existing research into laughter’s effect on human health, but the planned study may be the first to continuously monitor the effect, according to a hospital official.

The facility is teaming up with Yoshimoto Kogyo and Shochiku Geino, Osaka-based talent agencies whose comedians will perform manzai two-person comedy routines. Another agency, Beicho Co., will also have its rakugo comedy storytellers perform.

The official said the hospital will measure the activity of patients’ cancer-killing cells as well as their cortisol levels, which is related to stress, to look for differences before and after the events.

Research has previously indicated that laughter is related to the efficacity of the body’s cancer-killing cells, according to Tokyo-based Daiwa Pharmaceutical Co.’s website.

The hospital in the past has hosted entertainment events such as concerts for patients, but this is the first time that such events will be connected to a scientific study. With the relocation and renewal of the facility, which will be renamed Osaka International Cancer Institute, scheduled for March, it wants to incorporate an element of medical research into such events, the official said.

The experiment will start in May and consist of eight to 10 sessions. The number of patients to be involved is as yet undecided. The official said the facility expects dozens to join each session. Some patients will be asked to come to just one session while others will participate in several to see whether there are differences depending on how often they watch the shows.

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