Good to know: Why men have more lint in their belly buttons than women

My boyfriend keeps fishing out lint from his belly button and is disappointed that hardly any lint finds its way into my belly button.

Good to know: Why men have more lint in their belly buttons than women

My boyfriend keeps fishing out lint from his belly button and is disappointed that hardly any lint finds its way into my belly button. And he doesn't seem to be the only one interested in leftover fabric. Graham Barker even got his belly button lint collection into the Guinness Book of Records in 2010. He fished the lint out of his belly button for 26 years. His collection can be admired in pictures at the British tabloid newspaper “Daily Mail”.

Now the man's decades-long passion for collecting may be a bit bizarre and a little disgusting, but the question of how the lint gets into the belly button has also puzzled scientists. Karl Kruszelnicki, an Australian scientist and host of a radio science show, was already concerned with the question of belly button lint in the early 2000s.

In an online survey with almost 5,000 participants, he found that navel fuzz is mainly found in middle-aged men with at least a little hairy stomach. In addition to the survey, around 180 people who can normally fish lint out of their belly button shaved their belly hair in an experiment and 40 percent noticed less lint as a result. However, 35 percent of the participants were unable to assess whether the number of belly button fluff had changed after shaving.

For his research, Kruszelnicki received the Ig Nobel Prize in 2002, an award given for research that "first makes you laugh and then makes you think."

According to Kruszelnicki's research, belly button fuzz is made up of body hair, skin cells and clothing fibers. Therefore, it is not surprising that about 37 percent of people with belly button fuzz reported that the color of the fuzz matched the color of their clothing.

Austrian nuclear physicist Georg Steinhauser examined his own belly button lint – 503 pieces of lint, to be exact. He published the results in the journal “Medical Hypotheses.” He also asked friends about their belly button lint. He also came to the conclusion that the hair on the stomach is the main reason why fluff ends up in the belly button. And newer clothes shed more than old ones. The belly hair promotes the abrasion of the lint from the clothing and ensures that the lint all migrates towards the belly button.

Since men tend to have more body hair on their stomachs than women, they are more likely to have fluff in their belly buttons than women. If you want to avoid fluff in your belly button, you should shave the hair on your stomach or only wear older T-shirts and shirts, writes Steinhauser.

Read more:

- Why do many women grow hair on their chins as they get older?

- Why coffee drives us to the toilet

- Why women also grow dark brush hair

Sources:  Online survey, Medical Hypotheses

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