Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
Whoever said laughter is the best medicine may have been trying to kill you. Okay, not really — but, as it turns out, the age-old axiom we've all come to know and love has a fatal flaw, literally. A new study in the British Medical Journal reviews the many benefits of laughter, as well as an interesting list of potentially harmful consequences.
Researchers have been looking into the intricacies of laughter for years, examining its evolutionary origins, how it affects pain thresholds, and more. For this report, analysts compared two journals, going back to 1946, for studies regarding the benefits and harms of a real case of the giggles.
The advantages of laughter include reduced anger, anxiety, depression, stress, and tension, increased pain threshold, and improved lung function, among others. But, laughter is also no joke. The consequences range from a dislocated jaw and incontinence to headaches, cardiac rupture, and in most serious circumstances, death.