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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Make Merry, It's Good for Your Health

LONDON -- Laughing is good for you, and drinkers laugh more, so drinking must also be good for you, British psychologists said Tuesday.

Geoffrey Lowe, a psychologist at the University of Hull, said three separate studies showed clearly what any reluctantly sober party-goer has known for years -- that social drinkers laugh more than people who drink very little or not at all.

Reporting to the British Psychological Society's annual meeting, and just in time for Christmas party-goers, Lowe cited reports showing laughing can stimulate the body's immune system.

Added to scientific evidence about the health-giving properties of alcohol, he said the implications were clear.

"Unlike the earlier biological and medical studies which suggested that alcohol has a cardiological protective effect, our message is that maybe it is something to do with the person's lifestyle and attitude to life and the fact that they engage in fun and laughter more," Lowe said.

"We are saying perhaps people shouldn't use alcohol as a medicine but only as a facilitator for fun, and I believe that might be the important thing."

Lowe's team did three studies on drinking and laughter. A survey of 332 people who defined themselves as "social drinkers" showed they used humor and laughter more in everyday life than lighter drinkers or teetotalers.

"These are people who regarded themselves as social drinkers and perhaps who do not drink more than 50 units a week," Lowe said in a telephone interview. One unit is defined as a glass of wine, a small beer or a small serving of spirits.

But, just in case they were exaggerating or had their judgment clouded somehow, Lowe and colleagues visited pubs in the line of duty to watch drinkers in action. Sure enough, those who drank moderately laughed more. The same was found in a third study.

Lowe said he would nonetheless not advise heading for the liquor cabinet. "I wouldn't necessarily drink more as a basis of this research," he said. "I would laugh more."