Do men get sicker than women?

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A new study from researchers at the University of Cambridge suggests that men’s immune systems are aren’t as strong as women’s—in part because, throughout evolution men’s bodies prioritized procreation over the development of immunity—and that they are more susceptible to illness, and suffer it more severely as a result, the Telegraph reports. The findings, based on mathematical models of characteristics distinguishing men from women, suggest that a phenomenon colloquially referred to as “man flu,” when men “turn a sniffle into flu and a headache into a migraine,” in the words of Telegraph writer Richard Alleyne, may actually have some scientific basis.

As Dr. Oliver Restif, one of researchers examining how male and female immunity may differ, told the Telegraph: “”In many cases, males tend to be more prone to get infected or less able to clear infection… Proposed mechanisms include interference between male hormones and immunity, as well as risk-taking behavior.”

In response to the mathematical modeling from Cambridge researchers, some commented on the Telegraph story with skepticism that men are harder hit by cold and flu than women. Others said that the story provides evidence that men are just more stoic about illness than their female counterparts. And so the battle of the sexes continues. Read the full Telegraph piece here.

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