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Beauty is no guide to a woman's healthiness

There seems to be a difference between the sexes when it comes to being attractive and also having a strong immune system.

Recent research has suggested that facial attractiveness indicates immune responsiveness in men. However, work to find out whether this is the same for women found that it was not.

Scientists vaccinated 52 young Latvian women against hepatitis B and measured the amount of antibodies produced. They also checked cortisol levels, which indicate stress.

Latvian men rated the attractiveness of the women's faces from photographs and the researchers checked for links between attractiveness and immune responsiveness.

STUDIES

The scientists, led by Markus Rantala, of the University of Turku, Finland, concluded: "In contrast to findings in men, we found that women's immune response (ability to produce antibodies) is not associated with their facial attractiveness.

"Thus there seems to be a sex difference in association between immune defence and facial attractiveness in humans."

Future studies would be needed to check whether facial attractiveness signalled a different arm of immune defence in women as opposed to men.

The study of cortisol levels showed that women are less attractive when subject to stress.

The authors say there have been many studies in humans "that have found that stress has strong negative effect on health, including immune function".

hnews@herald.ie


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