Physically Attractive People May Have Stronger Immune Systems

Physically Attractive People May Have Stronger Immune Systems

The research focused on human evolution theorizes that people considered more physically attractive may also lead healthier lives. Nevertheless, the link between physical attractiveness and greater immunity has never been closely examined. That is why a new study aims to investigate this connection.

People from different cultural backgrounds find several characteristics, for instance, symmetrical faces, appealing. Earlier, scientists speculated that people are drawn to individuals with these characteristics because they are thought to have stronger immune systems, i.e., “beautiful” people are healthier and thus have greater reproductive possibilities.

One hundred fifty-nine students aged 17–30 years were enrolled in the study, and more than half of them were white. At the beginning of the study, none of the participants suffered from chronic diseases, including cognitive disorders, and their BMI was not higher than 30. Furthermore, none of them used hormonal birth control or steroids. Also, the participants did not exercise and avoided alcoholic beverages two days before the beginning of the study. 

All of the students answered surveys about their way of living and demographic background and were photographed. A second group was involved in the next phase of the research. The participants from this group were asked to rate 25 photographs of individuals of the other gender-based on characteristics like beauty and health.

Those who were considered physically attractive had higher levels of phagocytosis of E. coli bioparticles, meaning that people look for partners who have lower chances of experiencing microbial infections. In addition, the results indicate that women favor men with high functioning NK cells and can successfully defeat viruses. At the same time, it was found that men prefer women with low functioning NK cells. However, the research team did not discover essential links between physical beauty and a stronger immune system function.

Yet, the study had several limitations. For instance, none of the participants were obese or suffered from mental diseases. Moreover, the participants had a task to rate members of the opposite gender, which suggests that all of them were straight. In conclusion, future research should focus on more diverse groups of individuals.

Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

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