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About the Bay: Clowning Around May Actually Be Good Medicine

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A volunteer dressed as a clown entertains children undergoing treatment for cancer. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

A volunteer dressed as a clown entertains children undergoing treatment for cancer. (Punit Paranjpe/AFP/Getty Images)

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CBS SF Bay (con't)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Studies have shown that humor and laughter can combat stress and relieve pain by releasing endorphins. Now, researchers at UCSF are actually studying the effectiveness of these clowns – to see how important it may be to formally add them to doctors’ medical bags of tricks.

“A medical clown is a professional clown and we come in to promote health,” one such “medical clown” explained to KCBS’ Mike Sugerman during his travels About the Bay.

This is no laughing matter. The Medical Clown Project of San Francisco is a nonprofit organization providing laughter – and some say healing – at California Pacific Medical Center’s (CPMC) Davies and St. Luke’s campuses.

“It’s not something new. We’re actually coming back to our age-old position where clowns were healers,” reasoned Jeff Raz, who runs the program. “To see them come alive and see the spark, often people or the family will say ‘I haven’t seen my dad be my dad in a year.’ Then we’ve done our job.”

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

“The reason why I became a performer? Because I love to connect with people and I feel like this is the closest, most intimate way to connect to people,” added medical clown Mahsa Matein.

“It’s the best kind of medicine here,” confirmed St. Luke’s patient Ralph Jacobson, who has required constant nursing care for the past 12 years. “They’re a great benefit to the patients because they help give cheer-leading and a quality of life to them. They’re really witty, really funny comedians.”

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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