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 close attention.

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 studied.

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. 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.

Robert Cohen
http://www.notmilk. com
i4crob@earthlink. net

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