'Laughter lowers depression, kills cancer cells'

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Saturday, May 25, 2013


IT WAS an unusual morning workout session. Some 80 participants and their instructor with contorted faces let out boisterous “hahahas” and “hohohos,” followed by prolonged laughter.

The exercises were components of laughter yoga, a mixture of proper breathing techniques, facial exercises and “faking laughter” for cancer patients and survivors.

They were attending a seminar called “Unite against Cancer, a Prosure Fest” at the Sacred Heart Center.

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“Laughter boosts the immune system. Cancer cells die with laughter. Laughter also has anti-inflammatory effects and a cardiovascular workout,” said Paolo Trinidad, the laughter yoga instructor.

Natural painkiller

Laughter releases a chemical in the body called endorphin, which is a natural opiate. This relieves the pain for some patients.

“Cancer can be induced by high stress levels. This can be reduced with laughter, which lowers stress levels. If you laugh, cancer cells die and tumors shrink. The cells are oxygenated and carbon dioxide in the body is released when you laugh,” he said.

“The concept is laughing for no reason. (Did you know that) 20 seconds of laughter even if fake is equivalent to a 25-minute heavy workout? You would want a good workout,” Trinidad added.

Not for everyone

Laughter yoga, though, is not for everyone. People who had just surgery, pregnant women, or sufferers of cough, psychosis, urinary tract infection and loose bowel movement should avoid it.

Trinidad, a former guidance counselor, learned the yoga technique from the Doctor Kataria School of Laughter in Bangalore, India.

Trinidad, who is here on his third visit, sought the support of medical practitioners, particularly oncologists and psychiatrists, to establish a “laughter room” in Cebu.

Among yesterday’s participants was Barangay Mabolo resident Cris Encabo, a pastor, who was thrice diagnosed with two kinds of cancer.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in the late 1990s. The cancer returned in 2009. He underwent surgery on both occasions.

In 2011, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and again underwent surgery and treatment.

Complementary

He admitted that he went through depression, but his faith in God kept him going.

In a separate interview, Dr. Dennis Tudtud said the yoga session is part of the wholistic care for cancer patients and survivors.

The oncologist or cancer care specialist said treatment goes beyond the administration of proper medicines and chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.

“We focus on other aspects now. Giving patients an optimal quality of life is important,” he said.

He said the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology has established a cancer survivor center at the Cybergate Mall on Fuente Osmeña.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 25, 2013.

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