Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mona Lisa’s Mysterious Smile: A Symptom of High Cholesterol?

For more than five centuries, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, Mona Lisa(also known as La Gioconda) has provoked speculation and controversy. Who was she, really? What accounted for her mysterious smile? Is she even smiling at all?

Now, Vito Franco , a professor of pathological anatomy at the University of Palermo, has come up with an entirely new explanation ( for the unique appearance of this famous lady: she’s suffering from xanthelasma, a condition in which cholesterol accumulates just under the skin; it’s often associated with hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).

Franco said that he saw clear signs of the hypercholesterolemia-related condition around Mona Lisa's left eye, according to a recent article in TIME. He also found evidence of a lipoma, a fatty-tissue tumor, on her right hand

“Illness is part of the body, not a metaphysic or supernatural dimension,” Franco told reporter Laura Anello of La Stampa. “And so, in revealing their physicality, the people depicted expose their human vulnerability independently from our awareness of the authors of the work.”

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