Health & Science

Why your ‘type’ may vary; The end of stomach stapling?; Greenland’s little catastrophes; My best friend, Jennifer Aniston; A useless $7,000 operation

Why your ‘type’ may vary

You may think you’re attracted to the same “type” of person all the time. But a new study has found that as men and women’s testosterone levels naturally fluctuate, their taste in the opposite sex varies. Both genders produce testosterone, a hormone which elevates the sex drive, although men have much more. Scientists at the Face Research Laboratory in Scotland charted the testosterone levels of 100 men and women over a four-week period, while also asking them to rate their attraction to various actors and actresses. When the men’s testosterone levels were highest, they were more likely to prefer an extremely feminine-looking woman, such as Natalie Portman or Evangeline Lilly. When women’s testosterone levels were peaking, at the time of ovulation, they were attracted to hyper-masculine male faces, like those of Daniel Craig and Russell Crowe. Such choices are influenced by an evolutionary drive to pick the mates most likely to be fertile and in good health, Dr. Ben Jones tells the London Telegraph. “Masculine men and feminine women are thought to produce the healthiest children,” he says. When testosterone levels were lower, men were open to more “boyish”-looking women, and women were more intrigued by “sensitive,” more feminine men.

The end of stomach stapling?

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

A breakthrough in weight-loss surgery may make stomach stapling a thing of the past, says The Washington Post. In the new “minimally invasive” procedure, the surgeon chemically vaporizes part of the fundus, the upper region of the stomach, where the hunger hormone ghrelin is made. If the fundus weren’t producing ghrelin, a person would be far less hungry. In tests on pigs, the animals’ ghrelin levels dropped by 60 percent, resulting in a loss of appetite similar to that produced by major bariatric surgeries in which the stomach is either partially removed, stapled, or bound with a band. Because bariatric surgeries involve a dramatic alteration of the digestive system, they have relatively high rates of complication, including some deaths. The best part of the new technique, says Dr. Aravind Arepally of Johns Hopkins University, is that “there’s no major surgery.” He’s now working to refine the technique so it can be tested on humans.

Greenland’s little catastrophes

When big glaciers break off from the Greenland ice sheet and splash into the ocean, it gets a lot of attention. But it’s the crumbling of lots of little glaciers that’s the real problem, says a new study. Using satellite imaging, scientists at Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar Research Center have been observing the impact of global warming on the Greenland ice sheet, Earth’s largest ice mass outside Antarctica. They found widespread evidence of cracking and melting of the ice sheet, especially in coastal areas laced with dozens of small glaciers. The scientists estimate that 72 percent of Greenland’s ongoing ice melt comes through the crumbling of these small glaciers. As the glaciers break off and fall into the sea, researcher Ian Howat tells LiveScience, “they are just pulling the entire ice sheet with it.” If large portions of the Greenland ice sheet melt, it will cause a significant increase in global sea levels.

My best friend, Jennifer Aniston

Millions of people become obsessed with celebrities, following their exploits in People and Us Weekly and even dressing like them. A new study finds that these celebrity “crushes” are not necessarily unhealthy, and, in fact, can boost people’s self-esteem. University at Buffalo psychologist Shira Gabriel asked 348 college students to take self-assessments, then to write an essay about their favorite celebrities. After writing about people they admired, the students showed a notable increase in self-esteem on tests. “Because people form bonds in their mind with their favorite celebrities, they are able to assimilate the celebrity’s characteristics in themselves and feel better about themselves when they think about that celebrity,” Gabriel tells Time. She said some lonely people carry on imaginary “relationships” with celebrities that are so intense that they view the star as a real friend. But star worship can be isolating when taken too far, Gabriel warns, and can even lead to stalking. “We would never make the argument that these relationships can or should replace real relationships,” she says.

A useless $7,000 operation

For arthritic knee pain, surgery is a waste of time and money, a new study has confirmed. Every year surgeons in the U.S. and Canada perform about 900,000 arthroscopic procedures on people with osteoarthritis, in which damaged cartilage is “cleaned out” of the knee to reduce pain and stiffness, at a cost of $7,000 apiece. But a new Canadian study found that the patients who received surgery were no better off six months later than similar patients who had physical therapy and took pain-relievers instead of having surgery. The findings confirm a disputed 2002 study that concluded that arthroscopic knee surgery for arthritis produces nothing more than a “placebo” effect, with patients who got bogus surgery reporting the same benefits as those who got the real operation. The latest study, says Dr. David Felson of Boston University, “is the nail in the coffin in the efficacy of the surgery.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.