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The man flu might actually be a thing — and not just a joke

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If you’re a woman, you know all about “man flu.” At the first sniffle or two, your guy starts to look downcast and lethargic. You know from past experience, he’s soon going to be sacked out on the couch for the next week or two, hoping you’ll be there waiting on him as if he’s on death’s door.

Men have always insisted that they really do get sicker. And now, they have a champion, a man who says science backs them up. Canadian researcher Dr. Kyle Sue, tired of hearing men’s complaints derided as exaggeration, decided to take a tour of the medical literature to see if there was any evidence to show that men actually do suffer more than women when they get the flu. His findings are published in the British Medical Journal.

It can all be explained by hormones, suggested Sue, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Newfoundland.

Based on animal studies, Sue argues that estrogen boosts the immune system, presumably making females of all sorts more resilient in the face of viruses.

To back up his point, he cited a study which found that cells from pre-menopausal women had a stronger response to the cold virus than those from men, while cells from post-menopausal women had responses comparable to those of men.

As an exclamation point on that argument, Sue pointed to a study that looked at deaths related to the flu. That study, he said, shows that among men and women of the same age, men were more likely to die from the flu than women.

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