Could laughter be the key to healing radiation dermatitis?

If you’ve had breast cancer or know someone who does, you may know of radiation dermatitis, a side effect of radiotherapy. This means the skin treated becomes inflamed due to structural tissue damage, and only continues to get worse with more radiation as the cells don’t get enough time to heal between sessions. This affects a majority of patients receiving radiotherapy, and new research on laughter therapy poses an optimistic outlook on an alternative healing process.

How happy are we when we’re laughing with a big group of friends? Laughing is the best medicine, so they say – and this might just be true. Laughter therapy works by getting people to laugh in groups or in individual sessions, and laughter yoga is quickly becoming a form of laughter therapy as well. A recent study examined the effect of laughter therapy on an experimental group of patients, carrying out the therapy twice a week until the end of their radiotherapy, and a control group that only received radiotherapy.

The result? The group laughing away reported lower incidences of severe radiation dermatitis (see graph below)!

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They complained less about intense pain compared to the control group, and the new form of therapy appears to play quite a beneficial role in preventing the painful skin condition. We can’t say anything for certain just yet, but with more studies we look forward to seeing laughter therapy help breast cancer patients!

Source: OncoTargets and Therapy, 11-26-14, Kong M, et al.

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