Is male flu fact or fiction? Researchers mean "fact"
It is often said that men are more self-pitying than women and that this is evident even with mild infections. But researchers have found evidence that men are actually more affected by colds and flu. This apparently has to do with the fact that their immune response is weaker than that of women.
Are men just more self-pitying?
Statistically, every person suffers from an average cold once or twice a year. Men seem to affect the infections significantly more. Some believe that the "strong sex" is just more self-pitying, but others point out that the infections in men are more intense and speak of the so-called "male flu". But do they really exist? A Canadian scientist has now dealt with this question.
The term "male flu" is used derogatory
Especially in the cold season, the term "male flu" is often used sarcastically to indicate that the so-called "strong sex" is soft and is always a lot sad even with small infections.
Dr. Kyle Sue from Memorial University of Newfoundland in St John’s, Canada, has now looked into whether male flu may not exist as a disease.
The result of his investigation has now been published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
"Surprisingly, there are already many studies on this topic, from mouse studies to test tube studies to studies on humans," said Dr. Sue in a communication from the university.
But: "No scientific review has investigated whether the term" male flu "is adequately defined or just a deeply rooted derogatory term without a scientific basis," said the study author.
Greater risk of hospital admissions and higher death rates
In the meta-analysis of several studies, Sue found that men with flu did indeed have a higher risk of hospital admissions and a higher death rate than women of the same age.
In many other acute respiratory diseases, too, the male sex was more susceptible to complications and a fatal outcome.
The Canadian scientist also provides a possible explanation for this: According to various studies, the immune response of men is less strong.
"Current evidence suggests that men have a weaker immune system than women, which leads to worse and longer-lasting symptoms when confronted with a cold or flu," said Dr. Sue.
The reason for this are hormonal differences between the sexes.
According to studies, higher estrogen levels (female sex hormones) are associated with stronger immune reactions, while higher testosterone levels (sex hormones that occur in both sexes) do the opposite.
This difference ends in menopause when estrogen levels in women decrease.
However, according to the Canadian researcher, this stronger immune system is not always beneficial for women.
Because women are more susceptible to autoimmune diseases in which the immune system attacks the body's own cells.
Dr. According to Sue, some research suggests that the immune differences between men and women are due to evolution.
Investing less in the immune system allows men to put more energy into other important biological processes - such as growth or reproduction.
The study author also pointed out that his previous results could not yet be regarded as final.
More research is needed to investigate other differences between men and women, such as smoking and drinking rates, or willingness to see a doctor in good time.
"Perhaps it is now time for men-friendly rooms to be equipped with huge televisions and deck chairs, where men can relax from the debilitating effects of the flu in safety and comfort," said Dr. Sue. (ad)