"Man Flu" Is A Real Thing, According To Researchers

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A study found fellas have weaker immune systems when it comes to dealing with chest, cold and flu bugs.

He takes data from 2004 to 2010 in Hong Kong to show that men had a higher risk of seasonal influenza resulting in hospitalization, and a decade-long US study associating men with a higher influenza death rate.

"The whole point of doing this article is to prove that men are not wimps", Sue told CBC News.

He concludes that there's a fair bit of (arguably) circumstantial evidence that man flu is indeed real. In compiling other studies, he discovered men are more likely to be admitted to the hospital for flu symptoms than women, that women generally have a better response to vaccination than men, and in one observational study, more men had flu-related deaths in the United States between 1997-2007.

In this study, the cells taken from premenopausal women had better immune responses to rhinovirus than men of the same age.

"There are a couple of studies that show women having more local and systemic reactions to the flu shot than men", he said.

In drawing his conclusion, Sue points to men's higher risk of hospitalization due to the flu and their higher rates of influenza-related deaths compared with women of the same age.

Cavemen
GETTY EVOLUTION A new study shows that men evolved to have weaker immune systems from women

Dr. Kyle Sue, a family physician based in Arviat, Nunavut, found studies on mice and humans going back to the 1990s suggesting flu symptoms in men are often more acute. He added that "one study found that men with higher testosterone levels had less of an antibody response to vaccination".

Man flu. Yes, we know - some of you, upon reading that, groaned, whereas others threw their arms up in despair saying "finally, the science has been settled".

One theory is that testosterone boosts aggressive behavior and the development of secondary sexual characteristics and so allows men to win at competitions - overriding the cost of the hormone's immune system suppressing effects.

In addition, he raises the question of whether men who have the flu are more successful at finding mates.

"Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionary behaviours that protect against predators", he said.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners in London, agrees. "Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women".

Sue also explored whether there was an evolutionary explanation for why men might experience worse symptoms than women when it comes to viral respiratory infections. In other words, there may be some semblance of boy flu and an old man flu, but all things being equal, influenza isn't a particularly sexist infection.

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