TIME Heart Disease

How Optimism Might Be Good for Your Heart

New research links a positive attitude with cardiovascular health

A new study finds that an optimistic outlook on life might be good for your heart—and not in the metaphorical, warm-and-fuzzy kind of way.

People with an upbeat, can-do attitude also have significantly better cardiovascular health, according to researchers at the University of Illinois.

“Individuals with the highest levels of optimism have twice the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health compared to their more pessimistic counterparts,” said lead study author Rosalba Hernandez. “This association remains significant, even after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics and poor mental health.”

The study analyzed the mental health, physical health and levels of optimism of 5,100 adults ranging from 45 to 84 years of age. Heart health scores—based on American Heart Association-approved metrics including blood pressure and body mass index—increased alongside levels of optimism.

This isn’t the first study that has linked overall positivity to heart health. In 2012, Harvard researchers found associations between optimism, hope, and overall satisfaction with life with reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.

Read next: 6 Signs You’re Not Working Out Hard Enough

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TIME Research

What Your Online Persona Says About Who You Really Are

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Does who you are online match who you are in real life? A new study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin shows that avatars, the little icons you can customize in video games and Internet forums, are pretty good depictions of the people who created them.

Since more and more people meet and develop friendships and relationships online, researchers at York University in Toronto looked into whether the impressions people get from avatars, like the kind you use on Nintendo Wii and World of Warcraft, are true reflections of the real-life players they’re interacting with. To measure this, the researchers had about 1oo people create an avatar representation of themselves, and then asked nearly 200 others to rate the avatars on openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

The results show that traits like being outgoing or anxious are pretty easy to assess, but other traits like conscientiousness and openness to new experiences are more difficult. People with agreeable traits were better able to get their personalities across through their avatars than narcissists.

Katrina FongExample of avatars used in the study

Specific physical traits of the online characters helped translate personalities more than others. Smiles, brown hair, sweaters and open eyes were more likely to come across as friendly and inviting, compared to avatars with neutral expressions or those that didn’t smile. Avatars with black hair, a hat, short hair or sunglasses were less likely to come across as friendly or desiring friendship.

Interestingly, the people in the study didn’t seem to apply usual gender stereotypes to the avatars, though avatars made by females were rated as more open and contentious over all. The researchers speculate that perhaps the digital realm has gender stereotypes that differ from the ones we more commonly experience offline.

“The findings from this study suggest that we can use virtual proxies such as avatars to accurately infer personality information about others,” the study authors conclude. “The impressions we make on others online may have an important impact on our real life, such as who becomes intrigued by the possibility of our friendship.”

TIME Research

Why One Company Invested $30 Million to Grow a Vegan Egg

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Their goal is to create something finer than an actual egg

A group of Silicon Valley investors, scientists and chefs are close to debuting a plant-based egg. Omelet-maker extraordinaire Emily Kaiser Thelin investigates.

When I first met my husband, Josh, at a July 4th potluck barbecue in 2009, I had a strict rule against dating vegetarians—too much time spent defending my carnivorous ways. So I was crestfallen when the dashing stranger with whom I had been getting on so well suddenly plopped a veggie dog on the grill. I sighed and pulled out my bone-in rib eye. But as that steak cooked, with smoke swirling and fat spattering, Josh never flinched. When I carved into the medium-rare meat, he even asked how it tasted.

He explained that he’d never renounced meat—he’d just never eaten it. Ever. Since before he was born, his parents have eschewed meat and eggs. His father, Jay Thelin, cofounded the Psychedelic Shop on Haight Street in San Francisco in 1966. Jay was a rigorous idealist (he hoped LSD could expand the collective consciousness and end the war in Vietnam). Later, he discovered a spiritual path that convinced him that meat and eggs (and drugs and alcohol) hindered access to the divine. Out of a mix of habit, loyalty and pride, Josh has remained a vegetarian his entire life. He’s always been curious about omelets and steaks—just not enough to try them.

When we started dating, it felt good to eat more vegetarian meals. If I was missing meat, I ordered a roast chicken or braised pork shoulder when Josh and I ate out. Eggs became our only point of contention. On weekend mornings and at the end of a long day, I crave an omelet. Josh valiantly tries to win me over with his scrambled tofu, but, well, come on. Maybe I’ve succumbed to Francophile propaganda, but omelets, soufflés and other classics of egg cookery have always represented the ne plus ultra of independent adult living to me. And I make good omelets. When we got married, we joked that our lives would be perfect if only someone would build us a plant-based egg.

Last year, we learned that our absurdist fantasy was coming true. Big investors in Silicon Valley put $30 million into a start-up called Hampton Creek, where R&D scientists are building a vast database of legumes and grains (including often-overlooked ones like the Canadian yellow pea and sorghum) to determine which plant proteins can mimic—indeed, outperform—the properties of eggs.

The fact that the company’s founder, Josh Tetrick, is vegan has nothing to do with it. A former lawyer who’d worked in international development, Tetrick started Hampton Creek in 2011 to make sustainable food choices easy. “I fully support free-range eggs,” he says. “But my dad won’t buy them because they cost more. We’re looking for better and cheaper alternatives.” Industrially produced eggs seemed an obvious first target, he said, because of their many inefficiencies: food-safety scares, animal cruelty, high production costs.

But how do you top an egg? As Auguste Escoffier wrote in Le Guide Culinaire “Of all the products put to use by the art of cookery, not one is so fruitful of variety, so universally liked, and so complete in itself as the egg.” Eggs poach, scramble and fry. They emulsify dressings, structure cakes, even clarify wine. There are vegan substitutes that can replicate certain facets, but can plant proteins mimic them all?

Just Scramble, Hampton Creek’s whole-egg alternative, is the company’s most ambitious project. As food scientist Harold McGee explains in On Food and Cooking, when raw, a real egg’s proteins float like tiny coiled ropes in watery suspension. When cooked (or whipped), the coils unwind and collide with one another to form a three-dimensional web. This web traps the air in a soufflé, thickens the milk in a custard, or suspends the egg’s own water in the curds of scrambled eggs. For a proper scramble, a plant-egg needs to create identically elastic and moist curds at the same pace.

Hampton Creek has hired three former chefs from Chicago’s avant-garde restaurant Moto who collaborate with its scientists on prototype after prototype. Their goal is to create something finer than an actual egg, with better flavor, more protein and less environmental impact. Recently, they found an iteration close to the real thing; it consists of a half-dozen ingredients, but contains no gums or hydrocolloids and nothing genetically modified. I wrangled an invitation to the facility so I could cook my husband his first omelet.

I was nervous: What if my husband just didn’t like eggs? I heated an omelet pan with a dab of oil, then poured in the liquid plant-egg. It looked just like a beaten whole egg, pale yellow and perfectly smooth (it’s only a coincidence—the plant strains are naturally yellow). I missed cracking egg shells one-handed, but didn’t miss cleaning a whisk and bowl.

As it cooked, the plant-egg gently and slowly transformed from liquid to solid, just like a real egg. I nudged aside the cooked curds with a spatula, and the uncooked parts pooled right in. A few curds on the bottom lightly caramelized but never turned rubbery or dry. I took the pan off the heat when the omelet’s center was just this side of runny. I added mushrooms I’d sautéed with garlic and white wine, shook the eggs to the edge of the pan, and then upended the omelet. Airy and elastic, it folded in on itself and slid onto the plate, a perfect package. “I can’t believe how quickly it cooks,” Josh said. “Scrambled tofu takes an age.”

I took a bite. Texturally, the omelet was spot-on. Flavor-wise, it tasted a bit grassy, like olive oil. If I was judging it as an egg substitute, I might have given it a 7 or 8 out of 10.

“We’d probably give this a 5 out of 10,” one of the chefs said. “Ours will have to be better than an egg.”

One thing I’ve learned about tofu scramble: It’s always better with cheese. I sprinkled grated cheddar on the omelet—the grassiness vanished. Now it tasted fantastic.

It may be months before Just Scramble is ready for market, but I’m happy to pass the time brushing up on omelet recipes: Escoffier’s Le Guide Culinaire has 31 pages of egg dishes, 11 for omelets and (real) scrambles alone.

This article originally appeared on Food & Wine.

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Read next: Meet Nanosilver—The Tiny Pesticides In Your Food Products

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TIME health

6 Ways Your Phone is Hurting Your Health and Happiness

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Research suggests that your phone could be doing more harm than good

More than 1.8 million smartphones are sold daily and the average American spends well over three hours a day on the phone. We stay plugged in while we eat, sleep, and even while we use the bathroom. It’s safe to say we’re addicted to our phones. But staying connected at all times is taking a serious toll.

Texting destroys your posture.

“Text neck” is a real condition, and it’s not pretty. Peering down at your phone while you text, read, or surf the web puts an unnecessary strain on your spine, according to recent research published in the National Library of Medicine. When standing upright, the average head places 10 to 12 pounds of force on the cervical spine, but just a 15-degree tilt increases that weight to 27 pounds, and a 60-degree one to 60 pounds. The extra spine stress can lead to earlier wear and tear on your spine, and even require surgery in the worst cases.

Your phone could be making you sick.

If your phone is basically your fifth limb, even those who wash their hands regularly could be carrying around a lot more germs than they think. The Wall Street Journal conducted an experiment in which it tested eight random phones from its office. Every single one carried high levels of a bacteria suggesting fecal contamination. Many phones even carry more germs than a toilet seat.

Those earbuds might be damaging your hearing.

Turn down the volume. Thirty-five percent of adults and almost 60 percent of teenagers listen to personal music devices at loud volumes. When more than 30 percent of Americans older than 20 have suffered some loss of high-frequency hearing, those are scary numbers. Whether or not cranking the tunes will actually affect your hearing depends on the individual. Some people have more sensitive ears, and those earbud listeners could notice hearing loss after listening for only a couple hours each day, Time reports. While it all depends on your phone’s volume and how you’re personally affected by sound, the safest bet is to turn down the music.

Texting affects your balance.

You should never text and drive, and you shouldn’t text and walk either. Cell phone and walking-related emergency room visits are on the rise, according to research from Ohio State University. The most common offenders? Sixteen to 25-year-olds. “The role of cell phones in distracted driving injuries and deaths gets a lot of attention and rightly so,” co-author Jack Nasar said in a statement. “But we need to also consider the danger cell phone use poses to pedestrians.”

Texting while walking not only distracts, but can also knock you off balance. Australian researchers examined the speed and patterns of people walking while texting and found that they showed a slower walking speed and that they veered from a straight line. So, while you definitely shouldn’t drive while you text, you shouldn’t walk while you type away either.

Cell phones can hurt relationships.

Even though texting may seem like a quick and easy way to stay connected to the ones you love, research suggests that texting too much can actually hurt your relationship. Brigham Young University researchers found that texting to apologize or resolve conflicts resulted in a lower relationship quality for women. And receiving too many texts left men with a lower relationship quality. But it’s not all bad, expressing affection through texts enhanced the relationship for both men and women. So, go ahead and text over “I love yous” regularly—but leave the arguments and in-depth conversations for the next time you see each other.

You probably lose sleep over your phone.

Almost 75 percent of 18-to-44-year-olds sleep with their phones only an arm’s reach away. Unfortunately, the blue light emitted from electronics, like laptops and cell phones, can have a terrible effect on our sleep. Artificial light at night stops our body from producing the chemicals that make us tired, and instead leaves us feeling more awake, The Huffington Post reports.

Plus, the constant pings, buzzing, and light from incoming texts and emails can hurt our sleep patterns. A Swedish study showed that the feeling of being constantly plugged in can cause stress that cuts into sleep and can even increase the risk of depression in some cases. In other words, the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to keep your phone far away from your bed.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: January 6

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. China is the key to solving the problem of North Korea.

By Christopher Hill in Project Syndicate

2. Squeezing cells to make their walls temporarily permeable could open the door to new cancer and HIV treatments.

By Kevin Bullis at MIT Technology Review

3. Survivors of domestic violence are getting immediate protection from their abusers via videoconference with a court officer from their hospital beds.

By Laura Starecheski at National Public Radio

4. Japan is testing underwater turbines to harness the power of ocean currents for clean energy.

By Brian Merchant in Motherboard from Vice

5. Drones are the new tool of choice for biologists and ecologists studying endangered species.

By Aviva Rutkin in New Scientist

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Research

Longer Rest After Concussions Might Not Be Good, Study Says

Research calls into question the five-day waiting period

Concussion patients who wait several days to resume physical activity after receiving a hit may be more likely to suffer symptoms of the condition, a new study suggests. The research calls into question the five-day waiting period for concussion patients recommended by some doctors.

The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, compared patients who waited five days to resume physical activity with those who waited one or two days. Patients who waited longer were more likely to report suffering from headaches and nausea in the first few days after the concussion and emotional symptoms in the 10 days following the blow.

The study looked at almost 100 concussion patients between the ages of 11 and 22 who had been admitted to the emergency room with a concussion. The findings do not necessarily apply to patients with more severe concussions.

None of the patients in the study were hospitalized.

TIME Cancer

Most Types of Cancer Just ‘Bad Luck,’ Researchers Say

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JUAN GARTNER—Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF Lymphocytes and cancer cell

Two thirds of cancers could be explained as biological misfortune

Researchers have found that bad luck plays a major role in determining most types of cancer, rather than genetics or risky lifestyle choices such as smoking.

The results, published in the journal Science on Thursday, found that random DNA mutations that amass in the body when stem cells divide into various tissues cause two thirds of cancers.

After examining 31 cancer types, researchers found 22 were from mutations in stem cells that could not be prevented.

Cancers that could be explained with biological bad luck included pancreatic, leukemia, bone, testicular, ovarian and brain cancer.

But the researchers say lifestyle choices such as avoiding smoking, eating healthily and staying out of the sun will help to prevent certain cancers, just not all of them.

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TIME Research

Why Police Aren’t Catching Drunk Drivers

There are almost 300,000 incidents of drunk driving each day, but less than 4,000 of those incidents result in arrest

Drunk driving kills 10,000 Americans every year. That’s a third of car accident deaths and a number only slightly lower than the number who die in firearm homicides. But, even as drunk driving remains prevalent and dangerous, legislators and police have dragged their feet in enacting and implementing proven measures to curb the practice. More than anything else, it’s just not their top priority.

“Most police knows that there’s still a lot of drunk driving going on and that they should enforce [laws to stop it], but there’s other competing issues now,” said James C. Fell, an expert on traffic safety enforcement programs at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. “They can’t put all their marbles into the impaired driving enforcement. They’ve got to do other things.”

But even as police face a host of other issues, Fell says there are some measures that can be easily implemented that have been proven to reduce deaths. Communities where police conduct more traffic stops tend to have fewer incidents of drunk driving, according to Fell’s recent study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

“They see the police, they know they’re enforcing the law, and it deters drinking and driving,” said Fell, who worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 30 years.

Other research suggests that sobriety check points, where police stop all traffic to conduct field sobriety tests, can similarly reduce deaths. But police departments simply aren’t doing them, at least not at the necessary scale. Only 3% of Americans drive in jurisdictions where police set up weekly sobriety check points, recent research suggests.

“They’re not very popular. Police don’t like doing them,” said Fell of the checks. “They think it’s resource intensive and they feel like they can be more productive patrolling the streets.”

Police departments contacted by TIME expressed confidence in the effectiveness of sobriety checks, but also noted their expense.

Lieutenant Kraig Gray of the Greenwich, CT Police Department said his department receives grant money to increase police presence throughout the holiday season and typically sets up a sobriety check point at one point during the season. It’s a step in the right direction, but a far cry from the weekly check points that Fell says are most effective.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sets up many more check points across the cities and areas it works with to provide increased enforcement to combat drunk driving.

“One of the aspects of DUI checkpoints is education,” said Daniel Dail, a sergeant at the department. “We want people to think that the cops are everywhere.”

But, like in many places across the country, drivers who encounter sobriety check points in Los Angeles are offered an easy escape. The check points are required to allow for what Dail describes as an “escape route.” If a car turns away, the police won’t pursue it.

For the drivers who are caught, there are often few penalties beyond a night in the so-called drunk tank, something police say is out of their hands.

A number of factors may contribute to a prosecutor’s decision of whether to prosecute, according to Joanne Thomka of the National District Attorneys Association. At the top of the list is a question of resources, said Thomka. Given that drunk driving cases are “some of the most complex cases” to prosecute, Thomka said that district attorneys sometimes decide they’re not worth pursuing.

“Is there enough equipment for officers to do testing? Are prosecutors all trained properly? Do we have enough prosecutors?” said Thomka, citing common questions asked by officers before pursuing a drunk driving case.

To be fair, the devastating effects of drunk driving on society have declined over time thanks to a massive increase in awareness and enforcement, in part initiated by police. “Those who were raised in the us over the last 25 years have gotten the message that DWI is not cool,” said Gray.

Still, the bottom line is that drunk drivers today are unlikely like to be caught and even less likely to be prosecuted. There are almost 300,000 incidents of drunk driving each day, but less than 4,000 of those incidents result in arrest. Driving drunk may not be cool, but it’s definitely still happening.

TIME toxins

Meet Nanosilver—The Tiny Pesticides In Your Food Products

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The EPA got sued for failing to regulate these particles

If you haven’t heard of nanosilver, you’re definitely not alone. But that doesn’t mean these tiny silver particles intended to kill bacteria aren’t ending up in your food. There are now over 400 consumer products on the market made with nanosilver. These include many intended for use with food, among them cutting boards, cutlery, pans, storage containers, espresso machines, water filters, baby bottles, and refrigerators.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers nanosilver a pesticide and requires products that contain–or are treated with this germ-killer–to be registered with and approved for use by the agency. But most of the nanosilver products now on the market have not been reviewed, let alone approved by the EPA.

Just a few weeks ago, in an attempt to close this loophole, the Center for Food Safety, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Production Action, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and other nonprofits filed suit against the EPA for failing to respond to their 2008 petition, asking the agency to regulate all products containing nanosilver as pesticides.

Why all the fuss?

As the name implies, nanosilver is silver used at the nanoscale, in the realm of billionths of a meter. To put this in perspective, one strand of human hair is about 50,000 to 80,000 nanometers wide. What makes nanomaterials so interesting to scientists designing new materials is that at this infinitesimal scale, materials can behave entirely differently than they do at either the macro or micro scales.

At the nanoscale, materials can take on chemical, physical, and biological properties that they might not otherwise have. And there are still many of unknowns, even in the scientific community, about how nanomaterials behave.

It is known that nanosilver can kill bacteria and microbes, so manufacturers are including it as a sort of antiseptic safeguard in food contact products that might harbor bacteria (i.e., that pesky cutting board on your kitchen counter.) But exactly how nanosilver behaves once released into the environment or absorbed into the human body, is not yet well understood. A number of studies show that consumer products, including textiles and plastics, can shed nanosilver particles. In fact, these particles have been detected in wastewater and sewage sludge.

Recent studies also show that nanosilver has the potential to harm and stress cells in ways that include causing damage to DNA.

Among the concerns raised by the growing use of nanosilver as antimicrobial agents in consumer products, explains Center for Food Safety’s Senior Policy Analyst Jaydee Hanson, is that it, like other antibacterial ingredients, “may lead to bacteria becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.”

Despite the many gaps in understanding the environmental and human health impacts of nanomaterials, the EPA has already granted what’s called “conditional approval” to some nanosilver products, saying the silver released will not cause unreasonable adverse effects.

This brings us back to EPA oversight and approval. So far, the EPA has only reviewed the few nanosilver products that manufacturers have submitted to the agency for registration as pesticides. Under the law, manufacturers must have EPA approval to make claims about a product’s germ-killing ability. The agency has enforced this law, taking a number of nanosilver products off the market, as it did earlier this year with some sold widely by retailers that included Amazon, Pathway, Sears, and Walmart.

According to the recent lawsuit, however, other manufacturers have simply changed their product labels to remove germ-killing claims, in an effort to avoid EPA enforcement or product scrutiny. These products, however, may still contain nanomaterials.

In short, the plaintiffs contend that EPA is not regulating nanosilver products comprehensively as required under the U.S. law governing pesticides.

Asked about any EPA approval of nanosilver for use in food-contact products, an EPA spokesperson responded by email explaining that the agency “has approved nanosilver for use as a non-food-contact preservative to protect plastics and textiles … from odor and stain causing bacteria, fungi, mold, and mildew.” But they did not respond about food contact products directly.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates chemicals used in food contact products, responded by saying it has “not approved the use of silver nanomaterial for use as a food ingredient added to food or as a food contact substance.” So while EPA has approved some nanosilver products for use in plastics, its approval does not cover food-contact products of the type that are now being sold–without FDA approval.

To make matters more confusing, in a “guidance document” issued last June, the FDA said it had “not established regulatory definitions of “nanotechnology,” “nanomaterial,” “nanoscale,” or other related terms.” The same document also says safety evaluations of such products should consider their “unique” characteristics.

The bottom line appears to be that both EPA and FDA–the agencies responsible for regulating chemicals used in consumer products–acknowledge significant gaps in understanding the behavior and toxicity of nanomaterials, including nanosilver. Yet such products–including those for use with food–are growing in number and availability while research shows that nanosilver can indeed escape from these items.

So what happens next? “The EPA hopefully will say they want to settle,” and develop a legally binding “timeline to respond to the petition,” says CFS’ Hanson. In the meantime, nanosilver may be finding its way from these materials into the food we eat. If you’re concerned about their potential environmental and health effects, you might want to stay away from kitchen items that claim to kill germs and follow good food safety practices instead.

This article originally appeared on Civil Eats.

TIME Research

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Being a Woman

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Being a woman carries a host of health and body payoffs

Members of the so-called weaker sex, listen up. Thanks in part to the protective benefits of female hormones, as well as the lifestyle choices women tend to make, you’re afforded a host of body payoffs guys don’t get. “Men notoriously pay less attention to their health and prefer to take a macho approach rather than go to the doctor to get things checked out,” says J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. The following 10 ways women come out on top health-wise will make you glad you were born with two X chromosomes.

Women blow out more birthday candles

When it comes to longevity, chicks rule. A girl born in 2012 (the most recent year statistics are available) can expect to live until age 81.2; a boy is likely to hit 76.4, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Researchers aren’t entirely sure what accounts for those extra four years. “It might have to do with the fact that women have lower rates of heart disease compared to men, though women are catching up,” explains Nieca Goldberg, MD, medical director of the women’s heart program at the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “But it may be a result of women maintaining stronger social ties to friends and family, because social ties are linked to longevity.

Women have a higher pain tolerance

The notion that men face pain with unflinching stoicism while women are more sensitive to every ache is not exactly reflected in research. Though the jury is still officially out, numerous studies back up the fact that women appear to have a higher pain threshold than men, says Dr. Goldberg, with pain threshold defined as the amount of pain it takes to register in the body. Of course, it makes sense that females need to be able to withstand pain, considering how much of it is typically experienced during childbirth. “Women have to be able to sustain the agony during labor and delivery,” says Dr. Goldberg.

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Head and neck cancers strike more men than women

The statistics tell the story: the National Cancer Society estimates that this year, about 30,000 men will be diagnosed with oral cavity or pharynx cancer, while just 12,000 women will. And when it comes to esophageal cancer, 14,000 men can expect to develop it this year, compared to only 3,000 women. Why do head and neck cancers discriminate so openly based on sex? Cancers that occur in these body areas are strongly linked to tobacco and alcohol use. “Though women are catching up, men still indulge is smoking and drinking in higher numbers, so they develop these cancers in higher numbers too,” says Dr. Lichtenfeld.

Melanoma rates are lower in older women

Before age 45, rates of melanoma—the least common yet deadliest form of skin cancer—are higher in women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. It’s a trend researchers attribute to the popularity of tanning indoors and out. But after that point, it’s men who bear the brunt of the disease in more significant numbers. “It’s unusual for melanoma to strike at a young age, and by the time they reach their 50s and 60s, we start to see high numbers of white men with it, probably due to accumulated skin damage over time after decades of working outside, or playing outdoor sports, without the benefit of sunscreen,” says Dr. Lichtenfeld.

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Women have a keener sense of smell

No wonder candles, soaps, detergents, and perfumes cater to female noses. Compared to men, women appear to have a sharper odor detection, with women having up to 50% more cells in their olfactory bulb (the first region of the brain to receive signals about odors), according to a recent study in the journal PLOS ONE. The study lends weight to the idea that women are superior sniffers, but it doesn’t explain why. One theory: a keener sense of smell helps women detect the pheromones that help her pick the right mate; another postulates that being able to detect rancid odors helps a woman protect her offspring from infection and disease.

HDL cholesterol levels are higher in women

HDL cholesterol, the good kind, is associated with strong heart health. It’s credited with preventing plaque buildup in the arteries of premenopausal women and protecting them from the early heart disease that may already be developing in men in the same age group. “Estrogen raises good cholesterol throughout a woman’s childbearing years, when estrogen production peaks,” says Goldberg. Estrogen output drops off following menopause, and HDL cholesterol goes with it. But if you continue to eat nutritiously, stay at a healthy weight, and have your cholesterol tested regularly, your HDL cholesterol numbers can continue to stay in a healthy range so you can maintain that estrogen-fueled head start against heart disease.

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The female brain has better recall

Several scientific studies suggest what a lot of women already know anecdotally: women are simply better at remembering things. A 2014 Norwegian study of about 37,000 people from the journal BMC Psychology bears this out: though older people in general had more memory issues, men of all ages, young and old, were more forgetful than their female counterparts. Why that is isn’t exactly clear, but previous research has suggested that it may be due to brain degeneration caused by cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, both of which strike more men than women.

Women are less likely to become alcoholics

“Men are up to twice as likely to develop alcoholism as women are,” explains Holly Phillips, MD, New York City women’s health specialist and medical contributor for WCBS News. One reason for a guy’s increased risk of addiction to booze has to do with the brain chemical dopamine, says Dr. Phillips. A recent study of male and female social drinkers found that men had a greater dopamine release than women in an area of the brain called the ventral striatum, which is strongly associated with pleasure, reinforcement, and addiction formation. There may be a psychological component as well. “While women are more likely to become depressed than men in response to common environmental triggers such as illness or grieving a death—a process some psychologists see as turning pain inward—men may be more likely to numb the pain with substances,” adds Dr. Phillips.

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Women tend to accumulate less belly fat

Instead of bemoaning the fact that you tend to pack extra pounds on your butt, hips, and thighs, be happy about it—it means your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic diseases is lower than if fat tended to develop across your midsection, as it generally does in men. “Apple-shaped bodies, which more men have, hold more fat around the heart and upper abdomen, increasing heart disease risk,” says Dr. Phillips. “Pear shaped bodies keep fat away from the heart, which is a good thing.” Fat around the middle can also increase the risk of certain cancers, says Dr. Lichtenfeld. Researchers are learning that belly fat is metabolically active, producing hormones that cause a chain reaction in the body, resulting in higher levels of inflammation and insulin resistance, which leads to disease.

Women have a delayed heart attack risk

While a man’s odds of developing heart disease and having a major coronary begin in his 40s or even earlier, says Dr. Phillips, a woman’s risk doesn’t really begin until after she hits 50 and goes through menopause—giving women some extra time before being susceptible to the number one killer of both men and women. “Women have their first heart attack a full 10 years after men do,” says Dr. Goldberg. A younger woman’s better cholesterol profile plays a role, but estrogen or lifestyle choices, such as eating healthier, seems to have additional protective benefits, such as keeping blood pressure down (high blood pressure is a heart attack risk factor). However, things change after menopause. “After 50, a woman’s vulnerability to heart disease begins to resemble that of males,” says Dr. Phillips.

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This article originally appeared on Health.com

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