Plus, more fun facts from the CDC and WHO in a detailed infographic from Information Is Beautiful
When's the last time you stripped down and took a good long look in the mirror? Don't worry, we're not going to lead you through a self-love mantra (not this time, anyway). Rather, scientists are saying that certain physical characteristics may indicate your risk of certain illnesses like heart disease or cancer. Of course, correlation is not causation, but it is a fun excuse to take a head-to-toe inventory of your health. (As for your habits, here are 7 Single Health Moves with Serious Impact.)
Gleaning information from population-based studies done by the likes of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, Information Is Beautiful, a group that turns hard data into beautiful visuals, has summarized the information in a handy chart to help you understand your risk of everything from heart disease to the stomach flu.
Let's start at the bottom—your bottom, that is. This chart gives us reasons to love curves south of the border: Ladies with J.Lo booties have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (and a much higher chance of killing it on the dance floor). And people with larger thighs have a lower risk of heart disease, while those with tiny calves have a higher risk of stroke. (Curves or not, you should stock up on The Best Fruits for a Heart-Healthy Diet.) Plus, women who are slightly overweight live longer than their underweight or normal weight counterparts.
But not all fat is good for you, particularly when you carry it around your abdomen. Excess fat around the belly is linked with kidney and heart disease among other things while being very overweight increases your risk of gall bladder disease, the data shows. However, having strong muscles in your core lowers your risk of cancer.
You may have heard how attractive it is to have symmetrical face, but it turns out identical twins may keep you healthy: Symmetrical breasts are associated with a lower risk of breast cancer. Very large breasts increase your risk of the dreaded disease, though. (Find out How a Breast Reduction Changed One Woman's Life.) And artificially symmetrical tatas—i.e. those that have been enhanced with plastic surgery—up your risk for depression and suicide.
When it comes to your head, things start to get really strange. The scientists say that if you're prone to cold sores, you're more likely to get Alzheimer's disease. (The good news? Time on the Treadmill May Counteract Alzheimer's Disease Symptoms.) If you have allergies or eczema, you have less risk of brain tumors (from sneezing or itching out all the bad cells?). And blue-eyed women are more likely to be anemic while tall ladies are more prone to ovarian cancer.
While these studies can't show cause and effect—and you shouldn't use these results to make health decisions—it can be fun to see what exactly your body is trying to tell you about yourself. Plus, it makes for great first-date conversation. "I see your index finger is shorter than your ring finger! That's great, it means you have a healthy prostate!" Okay, maybe don't use that fact.