Why Men Seem to Get Hit Harder With the Flu Than Women

Man in bed with thermometer in mouth, holding head, eyes closed

WHO SUFFERS MORE WITH THE FLU, MEN OR WOMEN?

Okay, girls, time for a little quiz. If you and your husband get the flu, who gets it worse? I know, I know, he may THINK he has it worse, but who really does suffer more? Turns out, the guy may be right. A recent study in the American Journal of Physiology - Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology seems to show that estrogen has a protective effect for women.

THE CULPRIT AND HOW IT WORKS

Viruses spread by replicating. In other words, they make copies of themselves and invade cells. The fewer the copies, the fewer the invaders, and the less severe the illness. Researchers have found that various forms of estrogen interrupted the replication process, not necessarily stopping it altogether, but inhibiting it. This worked in the cells of women, but not in the cells of men.

Before a woman goes through menopause, she may see an inconsistent benefit as her hormone levels go up and down with her menstrual cycle. But for those who are on hormone therapy or who are on certain forms of birth control, the protection effect can increase. Another