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12 Dec, 2017 14:30

‘Man flu’ debate rages again, thanks to this (male) scientist

‘Man flu’ debate rages again, thanks to this (male) scientist

Men can wheeze a sigh of relief today, after a scientific review claimed that the phenomenon known as ‘man flu’ may well exist. The study argues that men really do have weaker immune response to respiratory viruses.

After years of enduring the dual injustices of suffering through a bout of influenza while having the females in his life cast doubt on the severity of his illness, man may now retreat to the sofa at the first sign of a sneeze, in the knowledge that at least science believes them.

Dr Kyle Sue, a clinical assistant professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada, presented his study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), writing: “Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women.

“Since about half of the world’s population is male, deeming male viral respiratory symptoms as ‘exaggerated’ without rigorous scientific evidence, could have important implications for men, including insufficient provision of care,” the doctor added.

The study cites a recent US review detailing how, over the last decade, there has been a higher rate of flu-related deaths among men than among women. Dr Sue’s BMJ study also suggested that testosterone may play a role in suppressing the male immune system, while the female sex hormone boosts women’s immune responses.

The study’s conclusions were questioned by the Chair of the UK’s Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard: “We’re sorry to be the bearer of disappointing news for half the population – but contrary to popular belief, and this article, the vast majority of robust scientific evidence suggests that flu is not sexist and there is no such thing as “man flu.”

“While there are people who believe that ‘man flu’ is an actual disease, and some men (and women) genuinely believe it is the reason they are unwell, there is little science to back this up,” she concludes.

Dr Sue, defending his findings (and his gender), suggested the worse symptoms felt by men could be explained by evolutionary theory. “Lying on the couch, not getting out of bed or receiving assistance with activities of daily living could also be evolutionary behaviors that protect against predators.”

“Perhaps now is the time for male-friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort,” the Canadian doctor suggested.