By: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Published: 02/21/2012 11:39 AM EST on LiveScience
Women may drool over George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but their lust may be more for these macho guys' immune systems than their pretty faces and chiseled abs, new research suggests.
Men with high levels of the sex hormone testosterone are seen as more hunky — and these same men have stronger immune responses, researchers report Tuesday (Feb. 21) in the journal Nature Communications. The findings suggest that women may be attracted to manly facial types because the macho look signals good health.
Researchers led by Fhionna Moore of Abertay University in the United Kingdom recruited 74 Latvian men in their early 20s to give blood samples right before and one month after their first dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine. The vaccine triggers the immune system to create antibodies against the virus. The researchers measured these levels of antibodies as well as testosterone levels and levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Next, 94 Latvian women, also in their early 20s, rated photographs of each man on a 10-point scale of attractiveness. The researchers then looked for links between the immune response as measured by Hepatitis B antibodies, hormone levels and attractiveness.
They found that high testosterone correlated with both sexy faces and a strong immune response. Men with the strongest immune responses were rated as better looking than those with weak immune responses. The link between testosterone and hotness was strongest in men with low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggesting that stress might take a toll on the immune system, and thus women's ratings of attractiveness.
While much research has hinted at a relationship between testosterone and the immune system, this study is the first to directly link women's opinions of a man's looks with the strength of his immune system. Researchers next hope to tease out whether the results hold across cultures and across different age ranges.
BEFORE YOU GO
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
In-person early voting dates: Varies by state
Sometimes circumstances make it hard or impossible for you to vote on Election Day. But your state may let you vote during a designated early voting period. You don't need an excuse to vote early. Visit your state election office website to find out whether they offer early voting.My Election Office
General Election: Nov 3, 2020
Polling hours on Election Day: Varies by state/localityMy Polling Place