Humor Therapy

For cancer patients, life can be dark, gloomy, and glum as they ponder the disease slowly wreaking havoc on their body. Furthermore, the  standard treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, often cause many negative side effects.

Fortunately, there is a complementary treatment that aims to alleviate the depression of cancer patients: humor therapy. This simply consists of trying to get the cancer patients to smile, laugh, and ultimately see the humor that pervades all of life. This is attempted through numerous funny movies, games, books, magazines and even volunteers who try to get the patients to laugh and smile.

Benefits of Humor Therapy

It is not a scientifically proven way to treat cancer, however. So far, science has not shown it to do anything to shrink the size of tumors or to slow cancer’s growth. However, it has many alternative benefits and can be used in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to improve overall quality of life. It should never be used as a sole treatment for sickness because it is better suited for use as a secondary treatment.

By making the patients smile and laugh, endorphins are released. Pain perception decreases while pain tolerance increases simultaneously. Mood is lifted and a more positive attitude develops for the patient. Subjective effects, such as focusing on funny things, on laughing, and on seeing the humor in life, may alleviative the psychological distress that afflicts many cancer patients.

Laughter also increases oxygen uptake to the lungs, blood, and body tissues such as the brain. It also increases the immune system’s response to disease; so, indirectly, laughter may actually help fight off diseases. However, there is no scientific evidence to suggest this speculative assertion.  It may work for many other types of sicknesses as well. While it doesn’t directly attack the cause of the illness, it improves mood, pain tolerance, and provides a positive outlook on life. So far, there are no negative side effects to humor so, even if the positive benefits are small, it still does more help than harm.