Man flu: Study shows it's real, men aren't overreacting

An article published by a Canadian physician reviews medical studies going back to the 17th century on the role of gender in influenza

"There need to be more studies, higher quality studies that control for other factors between men and women before we can definitely say that this difference in immunity exists", Sue told The Guardian.

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 extension to Dr Sue's research she suggested that testosterone might suppress men's immune system making it harder to battle the flue, while a female's sex hormones boosts women's immune response.

Sue reviewed research in the field and found that adult men have a higher rate of hospital admission as well as higher rates of influenza associated deaths compared with women of similar ages, regardless of underlying diseases.

However, Dr. Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada said the term is not scientifically proved but commonly used particularly in the United Kingdom.

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A study that isolated cells from 63 healthy people and infected the cells with a common virus found the cells from women had a stronger immune response than those from men.

Yet, doctors and women alike have long noticed that men tend to bemoan those symptoms more than women.

Canadian scientists wanted to see if men are wimpy, or if they actually do get sicker than women.

"I think the symptoms are real", Sue said.

"Man flu" refers to the idea that men may exaggerate the symptoms of a minor illness, such as a cold.

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Sue adds, tongue-in-cheek: "Classic modes of energy conservation may include lying on the couch, not getting out of bed, or receiving assistance with basic activities of daily living, which could all be effective for avoiding predators".

He looked at several studies of mice and humans that suggested symptoms in males are often more acute.

I wonder who funded this pointless #ManFlu research? "Is it that women are more resilient, that they are able to juggle more when they are ill, or is it that they don't have as severe symptoms?"

Cultural disparities, such as the lower access women have to health care or the comparative over-hospitalization of men and boys, might account for the data that Sue suggests points to the existence of "Man Flu", believes associate professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Sabra L. Klein.

He says the studies actually point to men having weaker immune systems than women.

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Quoting evolutionary theorists (and acknowledging the possibility of "author bias"), Sue wonders this: If males burnt up their energies fighting off infections, would it have been a costly distraction from their strategy of attracting sexual partners by growing bigger, stronger and faster?

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