Q: Chuck, I find the evidence compelling for face mapping — the idea that one's face reflects one's health. Do you think the same is true for our personality? — Sean C. in Ohio
A: Last week, I began to explain what experts say about how your face reveals aspects of your health. We looked at conditions around the eyes, skin, cheeks, lips and nose.
Before I comment on the personality, let me make one further note about the mouth. CBS News had a special report this past year noting that though plaque buildup on teeth is different from plaque that builds up in arteries and causes heart attacks, "the toxins in mouth plaque stimulate a chronic inflammatory response linked to diseases like heart disease."
Dr. Kevin Marzo, chief of cardiology at Winthrop-University Hospital, emphatically declared, "The mouth is the gateway to the heart, and there's clearly a link between poor dental health and cardiovascular conditions."
He explained, "The bacteria that cause dental plaque may promote inflammation in the body beyond the mouth, including the lining of the blood vessels, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks."
Research also has linked gum disease with respiratory diseases, stroke, osteoporosis, bad breath, acid reflux, diabetes and kidney and liver problems. The mouth even can give clues to health practitioners about a person's sexual health or potential cancers in other parts of the body.
Those are just a few more great reasons to brush and floss daily and get regular dental checkups and cleanings.
Beyond the mouth and the other parts of the face I discussed last week, a new study reveals that there are other cranial indicators of aging and bad health.
Just a few months ago, the Daily Mail reported on a new study that was presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2012. For 35 years, researchers at the University of Copenhagen watched and examined 10,885 people who were older than 40. They discovered that 3,401 participants developed heart disease and that 1,708 had a heart attack. They also discovered that 7,537 had a receding hairline and that 3,938 had crown baldness. In addition, 678 had fatty deposits around their eyes, and 3,405 had earlobe creases.
The researchers drew the conclusion that people who had at least three of these age indicators — earlobe creases, receding hairline, baldness and yellow fatty deposits around the eyelids — had a 39 percent increased risk of heart disease and a 57 percent higher risk of a heart attack. The more signs they possessed the greater they were at risk.
However, Dr. Mark Friedman from the SSM Heart Institute cautioned viewers of KSDK in St. Louis: Don't overgeneralize or jump to the conclusion that single facial factors prove cardiac disease. Remember that multiple signs pose the threat.
Friedman added: "One of the problems with these kinds of studies is something that appears to be a risk factor for heart disease may just be a marker for something else. Take, for example, the cholesterol deposits beneath the eyes; those may simply be identifying patients with very high cholesterol."
Dr. David Friedman, chief of heart failure services at Plainview Hospital, echoed a similar sentiment to a reporter for HealthDay: "One shouldn't jump to conclusions if slight fatty skin bumps around the eyes or certain patterns of baldness are seen." (A receding hairline may just be caused by one's genes.)
Still, we should not overlook the potential warning signs of this research. For example, further research reported in the British Heart Journal verified that earlobe creases have been linked to deaths caused by cardiovascular problems. Moreover, research from Harvard Medical School published in the Archives of Internal Medicine also supported that men with severe baldness on the crown of the head had a 36 percent increased risk of heart disease; men with frontal baldness had only a 9 percent increased risk.
To bring balance to the issue, Dr. Kenneth Ong, chief of cardiology at The Brooklyn Hospital Center, encouraged: "These physical findings may assist in earlier identification and management of heart problems," but "people should realize that it is important to distinguish the difference between an association and a risk factor; there may not be much you can do about a receding hairline, but risk factors such as high blood pressure can be treated."
And as far as personality's being reflected in our facial features goes, there is some truth to that, as well. So says Dr. Rob Jenkins from the University of Glasgow, who conducted a 2009 study about face reading and its correlations to our character and disposition.
Jenkins reported to BBC News: "Past studies have shown that people do associate facial appearance with certain personality traits and that our snap judgments of faces really do suggest a kernel of truth about the personality of their owner. ... Overall, the data is fascinating. It pushes the envelope in that we are looking at subtle aspects of psychological makeup. It's possible that there is some correlation between appearance and personality because both are influenced by our genetic makeup."
Jenkins' research even claimed that women's personality traits are easier to read on their faces than men's are. But because my wife, Gena, reads all of my "C-Force" health and fitness columns, I think it best if I add no further commentary to that particular finding of Jenkins'. That might be a health case for wisdom and a strong marriage!
Write to Chuck Norris (email@example.com) with your questions about health and fitness. Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook's "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at http://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.