It turns out beauty may be more than skin deep.
Attractive people actually have better immune systems, according to a new study published by the academic journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
For the study — which was published on Wednesday — researchers recruited 79 women and 80 men at Texas Christian University, asking them to have their photos taken and their blood tested.
The participants were photographed from the neck up. They were ordered to keep a “neutral facial expression” and the women were not allowed to wear makeup. Each participant subsequently had 85 milliliters of blood drawn for testing.
Afterward, 492 other volunteers were asked to rate the facial attractiveness of the participants based on the photographs that were taken.
The researchers then collated those ratings and cross-examined them with the results of the blood tests.
While facial attractiveness is “sometimes punctuated by idiosyncrasies,” the academics noted it is “often consistent across time and space.
“Features such as clear skin, prominent cheekbones, bright eyes and full, red lips have been deemed attractive throughout recorded human history,” they wrote in the study.
They theorized that there would be some correlation between a person’s attractiveness and their level of immunity, as humans may be biologically programmed to seek out a healthier mate.
Sure enough, the findings affirmed their beliefs, with the more-attractive participants’ blood found to have higher rates of phagocytosis — “the process by which specific white blood cells ingest foreign particles.” Medical researchers have previously asserted that “phagocytes play a central role in innate immunity by eliminating bacteria, fungi and malignant cells.”
Therefore, the study’s authors stated, “perceptions of attractiveness may play a more important role in guiding the choice of partners with high-functioning immune systems.”
Summer Mengelkoch, who led the study, told the Daily Mail: “People who go out to a bar looking to talk to someone attractive are often dismissed as being shallow and told, ‘It is not all about looks’. But they are really just following their instincts to find a high-quality mate.”
However, she noted that advances in modern medicine mean it’s now no longer as important to pick a partner with high levels of natural immunity.
“Infections are not as deadly as they used to be, so perhaps it’s okay if people lower their standards and start to give people who are less attractive a shot,” she stated.
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