The Checkup: You’re So Vain (and It’s Really Bad for You)

Researchers found that in particularly narcissistic guys, vanity takes a toll on the body.

Photo from Jupiterimages

• Warning: It’ll be hard not to hum “You’re So Vain” while reading this. A new study found that guys with high levels of narcissism—you know the type: he’s super full of himself, thinks he’s overly important or unique—actually show a measurable spike in cortisol levels, the hormone that triggers the body’s stress-response system. When cortisol levels are perpetually high—rather than increasing and decreasing as stress comes and goes, like it’s supposed to—it can take a toll on the body, increasing the risk for cardiovascular problems. The study found that unhealthy levels of narcissism was more than twice the predictor of cortisol in guys than girls, so guys who are full of themselves are actually putting their bodies more at risk for major health problems down the line. Here’s why:

“Even though narcissists have grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile views of themselves, and often resort to defensive strategies like aggression when their sense of superiority is threatened,” [study author David] Reinhard says.

“These kinds of coping strategies are linked with increased cardiovascular reactivity to stress and higher blood pressure, so it makes sense that higher levels of maladaptive narcissism would contribute to highly reactive stress response systems and chronically elevated levels of stress.”

• Here’s one for the ladies: Women who dine with other women mimic the eating habits of their companion—so if your dining partner overeats, your likelihood of overdoing it goes up, too. More here.

• Fascinating new research on Alzheimer’s disease found that it spreads in the brain like an infection. A protein previously linked with the disease, researchers discovered, travels from cell to cell spreading the disease. Researchers say the discovery could open up new doorways for treatment. Read more here.