Now months into the covid-19 pandemic one disturbing statistic stands out above others: more men are dying from the virus worldwide than women. [R]
To add insult to injury, researchers have also reported that men are significantly more likely to suffer severe effects of the disease.
One theory as to why men are more susceptible to covid-19 is that there’s a connection with heart disease.
“Some of the underlying reasons why COVID-19 may be more deadly for men than women may include the fact that heart disease is more common in elderly men than in elderly women,” says Dr. Stephen Berger, an infectious disease expert.
He continues, “studies also find that high blood pressure and liver disease are more prevalent in men and these all contribute to more negative outcomes with COVID-19.”
Another theory takes a broader look at immunity.
Specifically, that men have weaker immune systems than women do in general.
In pop culture a non-scientific view of this is known as “Man-Flu.”
“Man-Flu” is a phenomenon propagated by wives and girlfriends for decades that even the slightest cold can send a man into a complain filled, miserable depression of which we must be nursed back to health.
While our male ego’s might take a hit hearing this, science says there might be something to it.
In fact, in a research paper titled, “ The Science Behind Man Flu” researchers from the University of Newfoundland dug into the facts of the matter. [R]
After looking over dozens of comparative studies, here are some of the key difference between how men and women handle illness.
• Influenza vaccination tends to cause more local and systemic reactions and better antibody response in women.
• In cells with influenza, exposure to the female hormone estradiol reduced the immune response when the cells came from women, but not in cells from men.
• Females get parasites less often while men have weaker response to parasite pathogens.
• In at least one study reviewing six years of data, men were hospitalized with the flu more often than women. Another reported more deaths among men than women due to flu.
• A survey by a popular magazine found that men reported taking longer to recover from flu-like illnesses than women (three days vs. 1.5 days).
What Is Behind "Man-Flu"?
There are several theories as to why women have stronger immune systems than men.
Some scientists believe women might have evolved a particularly fast and strong immune response to protect developing fetuses and newborn babies.
One theory is that estrogen naturally blocks the production of an enzyme called Caspase-12, which itself blocks the inflammatory process.
The presence of estrogen would therefore have a beneficial effect on innate immunity, which represents the body’s first line of defense against invaders.
Another reason why women tend to fend off illness better than men could be located in our genes.
Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) plays a key role in regulating the immune system.
Females have higher diversity of MHC gene variants, which has been hypothesized to be beneficial.
This may be due to the ability to recognize a broader range of pathogens or due to the increased chance of carrying advantageous genes that maximize disease resistance.
Its likely a combination of these factors than one alone that’s behind “Man-Flu.”
That’s why as a man it’s essential you keep your immune system defense as stronger as possible.
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