What Your Belly Button Has to Say About You?

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We humans usually think belly buttons are weird looking and useless. Some of us have belly buttons that are innies or outies or maybe even a little bit of both. Some are bigger than others. Some belly buttons collect more lint than others. As we all know, we have belly buttons due to the umbilical cord attached to the placenta and when born the umbilical cord is cut off leaving a scar. So what can our belly buttons say about us?           


           Most of you have probably noticed that in sports most likely African Americans are better at running and whites are better at swimming. Scientists believe that it is all about the location of our belly buttons that determine this correlation. The naval, belly button, is the "center of gravity of [our] body" that plays a significant role in athletes. Duke University Professor Andre Bejan, Howard University Professor Edward Jones, and Duke graduate Jordan Charles did an observational study

athelete_michael_phelps__swimmer.jpgwhere they examined men's/women's sprinting and free style swimmers' records dating all the way back to a hundred years ago. They found that most African Americans have longer legs than whites, which puts their belly buttons three centimeters higher and as Bejan puts it "[a] mass that falls from a higher altitude, falls faster". This overall allows African Americans to be faster on the track than others. Just look at Usain Bolt who is the fastest man in the world. Though the opposite idea applies to swimmers that are white, like Michael Phelps, who has a longer torso which allows his belly buttons to be lower than the average human being. By having a longer torso helps provide more momentum which potentially creates a faster swimmer. ("Belly") 

           Aki Sinkkonen has the hypothesis that our naval shows how healthy a person is by our "genetics, health at birth and current health play a role in the navel's appearance". Sinkkonen believes that the way the belly button is shaped and the position of it could determine if the umbilical cord was abnormal due to malnutrition a baby received, causing the belly button to scar abnormally. He states that malnutrition is linked to how reproductive a person can be, so by looking at a human's belly button we could potentially predict how fertile they are. He also suggests that when a woman's naval looks abnormal while pregnant, it could indicate that "fetal brain development or genetically or maternally inherited components" could be an issue with her unborn baby. ("Belly-Buttons May") To read more about his published hypothesis in the FASEB Journal click here. How could Sinkkonen test his hypothesis? He could do an observational study but what about experimentally? How could he go about doing so without being unethical?


          I think it's safe to say that we have all experienced lint in our belly buttons.Our belly buttons collect lint because of the clothing we wear and depending on how hairy our stomachs are. Hint the fact that most men have more lint in their naval than women.Lint consists of dead skin, body's sweat, and dust particles. It collects in our belly buttons because the hair shapes around our naval in a circular shape. The hair rubs the fibers of our clothing resulting in lint as it comes from the hair to the naval. ("Revealed") Researchers from North Carolina did a study called "Belly Button Biodiversity Project". They found 2,368 kinds of bacteria from sixty different people who had their belly buttons swabbed. Out of those bacteria they found about 1,458 were new, unidentified species. One of the patients swabbed had a particular bacteria that was only found in Japan's soil and what is so surprising is that he/she has never visited Japan. ("1458") Though the experiment did not say how many of the sixty people were women or men. Many third variables could be involved such as how sanitary the people were, their jobs, and their living environment conditions.

            So for all those who have gotten or will be getting their belly buttons pierced just think about all the bacteria in our belly buttons. It now makes sense why my friends have had a lot of infections from their belly button piercings.

Works Cited: 

"Belly-Buttons Key Success In Sport: Study." AFP. 10 Oct. 2013 <http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hRv5sUxxWidc9Go7BQLl8iSIwcJw?hl=en>.

 "Belly-Buttons May Cue Potential Mate." NBC News.com. 11 Oct. 2013  <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/28934310/#.UlhK8BY546U>.

 "Revealed: The Secrets of The Belly Button Fluff." The Telegraph. 10 Oct. 2013   <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/4883791/Revealed-The-secrets-of-belly-button-fluff.html>.

 "1,458 Bacteria Species 'New to Science' Found in Our Belly Buttons." The Atlantic. 10 Oct.  2013 <http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/12/1-458-bacteria-species-new-to-science-found-in-our-belly-buttons/266360/>.

 Photo of Usain Bolt:


 Photo of Michael Phelps:


 Photo of Belly Button Lint:


1 Comment

My question is why do pregnant women's belly buttons pop during their pregnancy? What causes it do to that? Some investigation led me to this link which may explain why: http://pregnancy.about.com/od/pregnantbody/a/bellybutton.htm

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