Man flu may be real, study suggests

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The Cambridge Dictionary describes "man flu" as "an illness such as a cold that is not serious, but that the person who has it treats as more serious, usually when this person is a man;" while the Oxford Dictionary terms it as "a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms".

The study was essentially an analysis of previous studies.

Dr Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada tried to find out whether this commonly used term "man flu" is for real or not.

"Tired of being accused of over-reacting, I searched the available evidence to determine whether men really experience worse symptoms and whether this could have any evolutionary basis", he said in the BMJ Journal.

Such data proves that there are tangible reasons behind the excessive displays of vulnerability with which men have become associated, when sick.

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It's not clear why men may have a weaker immune response to respiratory viruses, but hormones could play a role, with the "female" hormone estrogen, in particular, providing a protective effect against these viruses, Sue said.

Sue admitted the studies didn't take into account other differences between men and women, such as how much individuals smoked, or that men have been found to be worse at looking after themselves and seeking medical care than women.

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Still another investigation indicated that in the face of both the flu and other respiratory illnesses, men face a higher risk for developing complications than women. Perhaps cavemen suffering from man flu is what pushed women out into the world to gather berries? For our ancestors, the effects of testosterone (i.e., increased muscle and bone mass) may have outweighed the potential immunosuppressive effect of the hormone, he said. During the reproductive years, it is women who often suffer more severe disease, in part because flu is worse for pregnant women but also because women develop higher - nearly excessive - inflammatory responses to flu.

I wonder who funded this pointless #ManFlu research?

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Professor Stokes-Lampard continued that there 'is little evidence to back this up'.

Nevertheless, he says, the available evidence does suggest men suffer more with the flu than women.

Sue does have some tongue-in-cheek advice on how to best combat the affliction.

Among the theories put forward, Sue notes higher testosterone levels might offer upsides when it comes competing against other males that outweigh the possible negative impact on the immune system, or that being more under the weather keeps males bedbound and hence potentially out of the way of predators.

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