As men, we're often given a rough ride for behaving in any way that makes us look anything less than Herculean. It's almost like if we're not living in a log cabin in the woods and flossing with bike chains, before heading out at 5am each morning for a hard day's bear wrestling, we're told we need to 'man up'.
A shining example of this is what many people have long referred to as 'man flu'. It's the idea that if a man is complaining of having a cold, he is most likely blowing things out of all proportion and should just get a grip - even if he's just coughed a lung up onto the coffee table.
However, next time your significant other tries to shift you off the sofa, telling you to 'stop being such a big fanny, it's only a bit of man flu', simply point them in the direction of this new research by Canadian doctor Kyle Sue, which may just prove what we've been saying all along. Man flu is actually a thing.
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Dr Sue, who is a clinical assistant professor in family medicine from the Memorial University of Newfoundland, reviewed existing scientific research and came to the conclusion that men aren't just making excuses, and may have simply evolved weaker immune systems than their female counterparts.
In his British Medical Journal article, Dr Sue writes: "Since about half of the world's population is male, deeming male viral respiratory symptoms as 'exaggerated' without rigorous scientific evidence could have important implications for men, including insufficient provision of care."
Through his research, Dr Sue found not only that testosterone may dampen the immune system, but also that hospitalisation and death rates for flu are much higher among the male half of the population.
He even found that women respond better to vaccines against influenza.
"Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women," he says.
In an attempt to explain the evolutionary reasons behind the man flu phenomenon, Dr Sue suggested that the fact women tend to choose mates with higher testosterone levels and correspondingly weaker immune systems, may account for the rise of the problem.
"In other words, can the blame for man flu be shifted to the people who select these men as sexual partners rather than the men themselves?" he added.
So, now you've got a proper excuse to lie on the couch and watch Cash In The Attic all day instead of going to work. You're welcome.
Featured Image Credit: William Brawley/Creative Commons