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Science finds that colds and flu can affect men more than women

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Emily Badiozzaman
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You’re in the depths of the flu. You’re talking like Chuckie from Rugrats, your head feels like it’s filled with rocks and you can’t really hear properly. And the women in your life are dismissive to say the least. Man-flu, they tease. Get over it.

But it turns out there’s may be a legitimate reason why your suffering is so much worse than hers. According to a new study from the Royal Holloway University of London, some infectious diseases (like the cold and flu) may have evolved to be more harmful to men than women.

Dr Francesco Ubeda, who co-authored the the study, explained: 

“Viruses may be evolving to be less dangerous to women, looking to preserve the female population. The virus wants to be passed from mother to child, either through breastfeeding, or just through giving birth.”

Because the flu don’t care about innocents.

But how does the flu target its prey? Study co-author, Dr Vincent Jansen says a virus might be able to tell if its host is a man or a woman by detecting hormonal and other differences, although it’s unclear exactly how this would happen.

Explaining how to deal with that, he said it might be possible to trick the virus into thinking it’s in a female body rather than a male one to ease the symptoms.

And it turns out it’s not the only disease men don’t handle as well as women. According to the New Scientist men infected with tuberculosis are 1.5 times more likely to die than women; men infected with HPV are five times more likely to develop cancer than women; and men infected with herpes are at least twice as likely to develop Hodgkin’s lymphoma as women.

Serious shit. But with regards to the flu, is this finally justification for our winter woes? What Dr Jansen giveth, he taketh away: “To me, man-flu sounds like an excuse for men not to go to work.”

But at least you’ve now got a bit of trivia to respond to office jibes with. You know, in between those exaggerated snuffles.

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Emily Badiozzaman

Emily is a freelance writer for Shortlist.com. She covers breaking news, entertainment, style and lifestyle for the site. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found eating and drinking or thinking about food and drinking. Follow Emily on Twitter: @ebadiozzaman 

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