Gill Stannard

Friday, May 15, 2009

Research update: The “Man-Flu” debate

Some great research out of Canada this week identifying hormonal evidence to support what women have always suspected – men have weaker immune systems than us.

More specifically, estrogen naturally produced in women seems to block 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 defence against pathogenic organisms. "These results demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than men," said Dr. Saleh.
(Source: McGill University press release)

While promising, the research it is still at the “rats and stats” stage but it does raise the question, would men take potentially feminizing hormones for the sack of a stronger immune system?

For me this brings up some issues regarding women taking synthetic oestrogens, for example the oral contraceptive pill (the pill) or hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It could offer a possible explanation as to why some women experience lowered immunity while taking the pill.

In the meantime another theory exists around male immunity – Man-Flu (enjoy the humour)!

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