The human body: An inspiring biological work of art? Or a meaty sack of germs and fluids? Either way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what goes on in there — and scientists are constantly attempting to find out more. Here are the most interesting things we learned about our bodies in the last seven days…
The Beard-Ball Correlation
Swiss researchers recently found a correlation between swagger in primates and their testical size. Apparently, the more bravado the primate has, the smaller his balls will be. What constitutes “bravado” in this case are the physical attributes male primates use to stand out and attract mates, including hairiness. These attributes tend to also signal social dominance. Which is… somehow not surprising?
It’s thought that because these male primates are able to maintain status through a physical signifier, they have less of a need to “invest” in their reproductivity, as the study puts it. Given our Homo erectus ancestors, the male human isn’t too different. So while this particular study didn’t include male humans, it’s possible to infer that long hair and beards are our equivalent. Thus, men with beards may have smaller balls. I don’t make the rules, beard-guys!
The Hounds Shall Smell Your Blood and Know Your Fate
You ever look deep into your dog’s eyes and wish with all your heart that you could know exactly what he’s thinking? Well, he might be thinking: You’re gonna fuckin’ die, dude. A recent study found that dogs can be trained to tell the difference between healthy blood and the blood of someone with malignant lung cancer with 97 percent accuracy.
Four beagles were used in the study, although one of them, named Snuggles, “wasn’t motivated to perform” (same). The other three did their job with a higher rate of accuracy than basically anything I ever do: A dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 more sensitive than ours, and eventually, their skills could be used in developing non-invasive cancer-screening methods.
Acetaminophen Makes You Mean
It seems like a win-win — kill the pain and care less about people. But it’s really a thing: In a study entitled “A Social Analgesic? Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Positive Empathy,” 114 people were given the common over-the-counter pain reliever or a placebo. Those who took acetaminophen had less empathetic responses when presented with photos displaying certain emotions, including happiness. Worse, one’s sense of personal pleasure was lowered from acetaminophen, too. Nearly a quarter of Americans use acetaminophen every week in some form, since it’s in nearly 600 different medications. So maybe rethink your daily Tylenol habit.
There’s A 20 Percent Chance Your Diet Will Kill You
No matter where you are in the world, there’s probably something wrong with your diet. A recent study conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington evaluated the major food consumption of 195 countries from 1990 to 2017.
The study concluded that no region of the world eats the optimal amount of foods in the categories it analyzed, which included things like sodium, fruits and vegetables, meat and fats. When correlating these diets to death rates for diseases like certain cancers and diabetes, nutrition was responsible for one in five deaths globally. In particular, too much sodium and too few whole grains were major killers, especially in the U.S.
Surprisingly, though, consuming high quantities of red meat, processed meats, trans fats and soda contributed to far fewer diet-related deaths, when compared with deaths from too much sodium and not enough whole grains, at least. So, enjoy that low-sodium hot dog on a whole wheat bun with a Diet Coke in peace.
Is That A Bee in Your Eye or Are You Just Happy to See Me?
An opthamologist in Taiwan recently found four living bees under a woman’s eyelid. She had gone for a hike the previous day and thought she’d developed an infection, but nope — bees, baby! If you’re wondering how that’s even possible, it should be explained that the bees were a breed that are about the size of ants. I guess I could imagine having four ants fit in my eye, but please don’t make me.
As it turns out, certain bugs just love to live on our bodies and feed off our salty fluids. These bugs, colloquially known as sweat bees, slurp up our sweat and tears. According to The Atlantic, it’s not just sweat bees that can call your eye home either: Mites, pubic lice, ticks, beetles and parasitic worms can also get comfy in your eyehole as well.
Circling back to the nutrition story, our diets are partially at fault for these sweat bees, since all that sodium makes our sweat extra salty. So, in a fate worse than death, eating too much salt could result in having literal bees living on your eye. Have a nice weekend!