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Health Often Determined by Skin Tone

Posted: April 1, 2009

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Stephen continued, "Our skin contains many tiny blood vessels that carry blood laden with oxygen to the skin cells, allowing them to "breathe", and allowing us to lose heat during exercise. People who are physically fit or have higher levels of sex hormones have more of these blood vessels and flush easier than people who are unhealthy, unfit, elderly or smokers. Physically fit people also have more oxygen in their blood than people who are unfit or have heart or lung illnesses."

Professor Dave Perrett, head of the Perception Lab commented, "Our evaluators all thought that bright red blood with lots of oxygen looked healthier than darker, slightly bluer blood with lower oxygen levels. It is remarkable is that people can see this subtle difference. "This may explain why some people with very red faces do not look so healthy; the color of their blood may be wrong. So it's not just the amount of blood that's important; it's the type of blood that determines healthy looks".

The research shows that people use the color of the blood in your skin to judge how healthy you are. "Since your attractiveness relies upon how healthy you look, you might be able to make yourself more attractive by being kind to your heart and lungs in doing more exercise or quitting smoking," concluded Stephen.

Journal reference: Stephen et al., Skin Blood Perfusion and Oxygenation Colour Affect Perceived Human Health. PLoS ONE, 2009; 4(4): e5083 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005083

Adapted from materials provided by Public Library of Science, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.