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A Woman Doesn't Have an Adam's Apple
We've always imagined this neck bump as a ball of cartilage, and we've assumed that men—and only men—had it, because of an excess of testosterone. Turns out we were only half-right on both counts...which means we were completely wrong. The Adam's apple is actually caused by the bulging of a set of cartilage plates that are held together by tissues and muscle fibers, which protect the vocal cords. Women have these plates, too, but the bulge is more prominent in men for two reasons: Testosterone causes the larynx to grow rapidly during puberty, deepening men's voices and pushing out the vocal cords. More important, says Barnes-Svarney, the thyroid cartilage that forms the bump meets at an average angle of 90 degrees in males, and 120 degrees in females. "The greater the angle, the flatter the plates," she says. Need more proof of what some scientists call the "Eve's apple"? Barnes-Svarney suggests humming; the spot where you feel the most vibration is your voice box, covered by the pomme de cartilage.