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Some people say that laughter is the best medicine... though perhaps not for those telling the jokes.

A study claims that being a stand-up comedian could make people ill.

Comedian Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer aged 32, comic actor John Candy had a heart attack at 43, and Never Mind The Buzzcocks star Sean Hughes died last year aged 51.

Researchers from Aberystwyth University compared 511 comedians to those with other occupations, and reckoned they suffer more colds, stomach bugs, respiratory illnesses and skin problems.

Lead author Dr Gil Greengross said: ‘It is possible that the lives of improv artists are more stressful than those of the average person. Becoming a comedian is difficult, with high levels of competition and low job security.

‘Evidence suggests that people with a great sense of humour are overly optimistic about their own health, and take potential health risks less seriously, even engaging in riskier behaviours.’