Today’s Headlines: Plastic Surgery, Arts and Crafts, and Being Short

Plastic surgery may change the way people think about you. Going under the knife to perk up your facial features has become a popular way to try to fight the appearance of aging, but new research is indicating it may also influence how others judge your personality. “In the study, the researchers asked people to rate either before or after photos of women who had had cosmetic procedures. Not only did they ask them to evaluate how attractive and how feminine she was, they also had people make guesses about her personality based on the photos. Why the personality traits? Previous studies have shown that physical features have a strong correlation to certain personality types. They found that people consistently rated the post-op photos as higher on things like social skills, likability, femininity and overall attractiveness.” But some have pointed to several problems with the way the study was done. “Asking people to rate faces on these characteristics is a bit artificial to begin with. The personality traits people were asked to assess have biased terms–like ‘aggressiveness.’ Raters might be saying that faces have certain traits only because they’re forced to make a choice when they might not if they weren’t in a study setting.” (TIME)

Sticking to hobbies, arts and crafts as you age can help your brain. While it can be easy to scoff at the arts-and-crafts activities offered in many community and senior centers, it seems these social pastimes can stave off some forms of brain disease. “256 people ages 85 to 89 with normal cognitive function filled out questionnaires about their typical activities at age 50 and also during the year prior to study enrollment. Every 15 months for roughly the next four years, the participants completed in-person mental status checkups with tests of memory, language, visual-spatial skills and executive function, which include abilities like reasoning and problem solving. Those who said they engaged in things like painting, quilting or book clubs during middle age were less likely to develop memory impairments that may precede dementia.” The study indicates that these sorts of activities could help to keep a person’s mind active and help stave off diseases associated with aging. “As you use your brain for these activities, we believe that you preserve or maintain function of the brain cells; you may also develop new neurons or neuronal connections that preserve memory and thinking skills.” (Reuters)

Being short may up your risk of heart disease. It seems like there’s another reason to resent being a few inches shorter than everyone else. New research out this week has found that being short may relate to heart disease risk. “After gathering genetic data from nearly 200,000 men and women worldwide, the investigators found that each extra 2.5 inches of height brings a 13.5 percent reduction in heart disease risk. The relationship is present throughout the range of adult heights. A person who is five feet tall has a 30 percent greater chance of developing heart disease than someone who is 5 feet 6, said a lead author of the new study. Experts have noted that shorter people are more likely to get heart disease in a variety of populations and ethnic groups, even after accounting for such risk factors as smoking and cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. But few researchers took the finding seriously.” The researchers don’t know what the reason is for the association, but think it may have something to do the genetics of height. (NY Times)