London: A beautiful female stranger may shoot up a man`s stress hormone level in just five minutes -- and it could be bad for his heart, a new study has claimed.
And, researchers in Spain have found that the anxiety level of men, who think they are not "in the same league" as the woman now sharing their space, is similar to jumping from an aircraft, the `Daily Mail` reported.
In fact, the men`s cortisol levels rise even higher, bringing on the possibility of heart attacks and strokes, say the researchers at the University of Valencia.
"Exposure to physical or psychological stresses for a long period of time may cause chronically elevated cortisol levels. That can have adverse effects on health as it worsens various disorders, such as myopathy, adult-onset diabetes, hypertension and impotency," the researchers said.
For their study, the researchers recruited 84 male students for an experiment that measured their cortisol levels before and after they had been left alone with a stranger.
The men, who had been told to avoid alcohol and other stimulants for 24 hours, were led to a room and given a Sudoko puzzle to solve. Each one presumed the other two people in the room were a researcher and another student guinea pig.
When the researchers left the room -- on the pretence of getting another puzzle -- the other two were left alone.
The findings revealed that cortisol levels stayed the same when two men were together but rose when a man was left alone with what was perceived as an attractive woman.
"In this study we considered that for most men the presence of an attractive woman may induce the perception that there is an opportunity for courtship.
"While some men might avoid attractive women since they might think they are `out of their league`, the majority would respond with apprehension and a concurrent hormonal response.
"This study showed that male cortisol levels increased after exposure to a five-minute short social contact with an attractive woman. It provides evidence that interpersonal interaction can influence the secretion of cortisol," the researchers said.