Review of scientific studies suggests 'man flu' may be more intense: researcher

Casey Dawson
December 14, 2017

The analysis follows a 2016 study, which discovered that oestrogen had anti-viral effects against the flu, making women better equipped to fight the illness.

"Despite the universally high incidence and prevalence of viral respiratory illnesses, no scientific review has examined whether the term "man flu" is appropriately defined or just an ingrained pejorative term with no scientific basis", Dr Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, begins. According to Sue, expending less energy in the immune system has evolutionarily left men with more energy for other processes, like reproduction, growth and the like.

In short, women have stronger physical constitutions than men.

Apparently, men are more sensitive to flu.

He says another factor not considered was the influence of men tending to take longer to seek medical care than women. Sabra Klein of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and several other experts have criticized the conclusions of Sue's research.

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Sue's study also considered the hypothesis that the hormone testosterone may have a relationship to influenza by acting to suppress the male immune system. "This is not true". Later, he documents how males are more likely to experience complications or even die from acute respiratory problems such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Sue points to still more research that suggests men's increased sickness may be a survival instinct since "it promotes energy conservation and reduces the risk of encountering predators". "Contrary to popular belief, and this article, the vast majority of robust scientific evidence suggests that flu is not sexist", said Stokes-Lampard, who was not involved in the research.

Sue also cited two "studies of influenza vaccination suggest that women are more responsive to vaccination than men".

Dr. Sue who authored the research study for BMJ, in his research stated that men in the United States seemed to have higher death rates because of flu when compared to women of the same age.

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