by Robert Cohen
This One Takes The Cake--For:
The Worst of the Worst of the Worst
Sometimes, I see a very bad scientific study and roll my
eyes or shake my head. Other times, I want to stick my
head out the window and just scream. On rare occasions,
I consider taking my own life. Today's study goes far
beyond anything that I've seen before, and I wonder...
what am I doing wasting my own life by reading thousands
of studies each year and writing hundreds of commentaries?
Has the time come for me to throw in the towel and just
give it up? Anybody out there wanna be a notmilkman?
Notmilkwoman welcome. Please send resumes.
Oh what fun scientists have behind closed doors when
they assume that their colleagues are not paying
Today's study was published the week of June 1, 2007.
I must assume that a committee of deranged and demented
ex-circus clowns reviewed the pre-experimental protocol.
I must also conclude that real money was approved to test
this theory by a second board of nincompoops. All the while,
more somber adults wage war against their fellow men in
dozens of nations, while many of the world's children starve.
I would giggle if I could, but like a late-night worker in a
Ben & Jerry's milkshake outlet, I may very well have come face
to face with a near-empty box containing-- -you guessed it, the
very last straw.
The peer-review journal in which today's study appeared is a
name I adore: Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Don't ask me why, but at 3:30 in the morning when I found
this study, I was intrigued enough to "Google" the Journal
of Psychosomatic Research online. Among other things, I
learned that the journal is celebrating its 52nd year of
publishing such studies. The price to subscribe for an
institution (The White House, The Pentagon, the staff of
a Guantanamo detainment camp torture dormitory?) is $2,225
per year. The price for an individual is $431 per year.
I could not understand what motivated the journal editors to add
that extra dollar. Charge $400 per year or $440, ok, that makes
sense to me. Why $431? Perhaps it's an insider's joke for
professional psychosomaticians. Is that a word? It must be,
to them. Despite the cost, $431 seems like a cheap enough price
to pay for a stand-up comic searching for original material.
Journal Reference: 2007 Jun;62(6):699- 702. Medline, PMID: 17540228
Title of study: Laughter elevates the levels of breast-milk
melatonin. Lead researcher: Kimata H. Department of Allergy,
Moriguchi-Keijinkai Hospital, Moriguchi, Osaka, Japan.
The following is taken verbatim from the journal abstract.
OBJECTIVE: Patients with atopic eczema often complain of sleep
disturbance. Melatonin is involved in sleep, and the levels of
blood melatonin in patients with atopic eczema are decreased in
comparison to healthy subjects. However, the levels of breast-milk
melatonin had only been reported in healthy subjects. Laughter
increased natural killer cell activity in blood and free radical-
scavenging capacity in saliva in healthy subjects. Thus, the effect
of laughter on the levels of breast-milk melatonin was studied in
mothers with atopic eczema. Moreover, the effect of feeding with
breast milk after laughter on allergic responses in infants was
METHODS: Forty-eight infants aged 5-6 months were enrolled. All
of the infants had atopic eczema and were allergic to latex and
house dust mites. Half (n=24) of the mothers of these infants were
patients with atopic eczema, while another 24 mothers were healthy
subjects. The mothers viewed either an 87-min humorous DVD (Modern
Times, featuring Charlie Chaplin) or an 87-min nonhumorous weather
information DVD at 2000 h. After viewing, breast milk was collected
sequentially from 2200, 2400, 0200, 0400 to 0600 h. The levels of
breast-milk melatonin were measured. In addition, skin wheal
responses to house dust mite and histamine were studied in infants.
RESULTS: Laughter caused by viewing a humorous DVD increased the
levels of breast-milk melatonin in both mothers with atopic eczema
and healthy mothers. In addition, allergic responses to latex and
house dust mite of infants were reduced by feeding with breast milk
after laughter of mothers with atopic eczema or of healthy mothers.
CONCLUSION: Laughter increased the levels of breast-milk melatonin
in both mothers with atopic eczema and healthy mothers, and feeding
infants with increased levels of melatonin-containin g milk reduced
allergic responses in infants. Thus, laughter of mothers may be
helpful in the treatment of infants with atopic eczema.
I wonder...instead of Charlie Chaplin movies, would the scientists
have gotten the same results from Seinfeld re-runs? How about
Leno late-nite headlines?
I continue to wonder. Should mothers always be laughing
hysterically while breastfeeding their infants? Should
infants be holding onto milk-enlarged breasts of hysterically
laughing giant females?
Folks? They blew this one. Had it been called "Laughter is
the Best Medicine" they might have won the Nobel Prize.
No? How about, "Tickle my fancy."
No? Hmmm...How about, "Titillating Times?"
Re: the scientists: "Keeping abreast with scientific boobs?"
OK, I'm getting sleepy. I am sure that you can do better
than I've done.
Alright...one more. I cannot resist.
"When you make the kids laugh while breastfeeding,
does milk come out of their little noses?"
Oh, I give up. Perhaps if I sleep on it...
One last thought before my quote to fit the moment. You might
have noted that the breastfeeding infants were also tested for
histamines and dust mite sensitivity. What breastfeeding mother
in her right mind would allow her precious infant to be poked
and prodded while participating in a scientific study? Will
the infants who did not watch the Charlie Chaplin films grow
up to become meteorologists? Will the children who did not
watch the weather reports grow up to become presidential
candidates? Stay tuned for the 100th anniversary issue of the
Journal of Psychosomatic Research.
By their experimental design, are the Japanese scientists
indirectly accusing the Weather Channel of being boring?
"At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into
a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. " - Jean Houston
Final prediction: The infants who participated in this study
will continue to be breastfed by mothers who believe that it
is in the best interests of their infants to laugh while nursing.
As a result, these children will grow up to be stigmatized,
and each time they eat they too will forever associate feeding
time with laughter. Every time they laugh, they will picture a
large human breast. Imagine the sexual disorders and future
unnamed psychosomatic syndromes, yet to be named by doctors,
yet to be published in this journal?
Each child will develop one of many eating disorders. Some
will become obese. Others will become anorexic. As a result,
they will find all things to be funny and when they turn 18,
they will join the circus and become clowns. After short stints
as entertainers, they will join the boards of peer-reviewed
scientific research journals to pass their judgment on the
worthiness of future experimental studies.