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It has been suggested that laughter may even help prevent cancer by relieving depression, an emotional state that may make people more susceptible to the disease. Many experts credit the late author Norman Cousins as being a pioneering advocate for the health benefits of humor. Cousins suffered from ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that afflicts the joints between the spinal vertebrae. He found that 10 minutes of belly laughter would give him two hours of pain-free, drug-free sleep. In his 1979 book, "anatomy of an Illness," Cousins asserted that humor and a positive mental attitude had helped him overcome his condition.