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A chuckle a day

Medical science is beginning to research the effects of laughter on human health and has found plenty to smile about. Studies reveal that a good laugh will help fight infections, stress, hypertension and headaches. Without laughter, people would get sick more often and more severely, says psychiatrist William Fry in Science Digest magazine. He believes that "humor stirs the insides and gets the endocrine system going, which can be quite beneficial in alleviating disease." A hearty laugh, he goes on, will stimulate your chest, thorax and abdominal muscles as well as your diaphragm, heart, lungs and liver. Your pulse can shoot from 60 to 120 as your blood pressure rises from 120 to 200. An increased supply of oxygen courses through your bloodstream. When the giggles subside, your pulse rate and blood pressure dip below normal. Skeletal muscles relax, relieving stress and hypertension. Laughter's chemical effects are leading scientists to think that it can serve as a natural tranquilizer. Mirth stimulates the brain to produce catecholamine, a complex hormone which, in turn, causes the release of endorphins, the body's natural opiates. They work as internal painkillers by decreasing perception of discomfort. Research indicates that laughter is especially effective for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, gout and chronic allergies.

_ Compiled from Times staff

and wire reports

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