Laughing to death 笑死了

A laughing dog
Image caption Sometimes laughter is no laughing matter

Vocabulary: Ill health 词汇: 健康不佳

Let me tell you a joke: which aspect of the English language are boxers best at? Don't you know? It's punch-uation (as in punctuation!)

Funny? Well, maybe you'd better not laugh too hard. According to a paper published by the British Medical Journal, laughter isn't always the best medicine. Sometimes it can even be harmful.

Professor Robin Ferner from the University of Birmingham, one of the authors of the study, found that bad things could happen to people who laughed too much. He says: "We found people with heart rhythm disturbance which had stopped their heart, we found people who had fainted, we found people whose gullets had burst, and we found people who'd dislocated their jaws or burst their lungs."

It seems that laughing can be no laughing matter. But it's not all doom and gloom. Professor Ferner says there are benefits to laughing… when you want to lose weight, for example. Yes, that's right: laugh and be slimmer!

Professor Ferner explains that: "You use energy when you laugh, you move your diaphragm, you expand your lungs, and both those things can be helpful."

According to the research, laughing for a quarter of an hour can burn up to 40 calories, and if you laughed all day you'd use up about 2,000 calories, which is what most people consume in a day. But don't do that or you might end up with a painful jaw. Ouch! Or you might find people looking at you in a funny way.

There's also one kind of laughter, described by the authors as "pathological", which can be caused by medical disorders such as cerebral tumours and multiple sclerosis.

But I don't want to finish this article leaving you feeling desperate. Laughter comes naturally for most of us. Babies begin to laugh at around 3-6 months.

So give in to your sense of humour and… keep smiling. Life is short anyway.