Controversy Alert! This ‘man flu’ research might anger you


Man Flu Article

  • I wade recklessly into the battle of the sexes
  • Is this new research, quoted in the tabloids, all it’s cracked up to be?
  • The truth about ‘man flu’ and why men need a couch and massive TV

Far be it from me to wade into the battle of the sexes…

But here it goes.

And before you jump to early conclusions – my point of view on this might surprise you.

“Man Flu Controversy!”

I don’t know if you’ve read this story, which broke at the beginning of the week.

It was about ‘research’ that ‘proves’ the existence of man-flu.

If you don’t know, “man flu” is the phenomenon by which a man gets a cold or sniffle and acts like he’s at death’s door, demanding special attention and care from friends and loved ones.

The common theory (as declared by some men) is that they get hit harder than women by colds.

Most women retort with something along the lines of “you’re just being a big baby.”

Now bear in mind before you read on….

What man-flu isn’t… is being a MAN WITH FLU.

Actual, real, proper flu is nasty, dangerous and strikes people down so that they’re bed ridden.

You can’t really ‘play-up’ flu.

So what we’re talking about here is how some men (not all men) cope with the common cold.

But is man flu really a thing?

Can men feel cold symptoms worse than women?

Do they deserve special care and attention?

Well, here was The Sun online on Monday:

And here was The Independent:

These articles were reacting to a piece in the British Medical Journal, by a man named Kyle Sue.

Rather than being a scientist of the sort who does trials with placebos, testing outcomes against each other… he appears to be a one-man band, who describes his method as following.

“I searched PubMed/MedLine, EMBASE, Cochrane, CINAHL, Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar using combinations and variants of terms “man”/“male”, “woman”/”female”, “gender”/“sex”, “influenza”/“flu”, “viral”, “respiratory”, “common cold”, “difference”, “comparison”, “intensive care.”

So really, what he has done is read around the subject. Which is great, but it’s not a trial that proves something, it’s analysis of some studies.

For instance, he quotes a couple of studies into mice which suggest that “female hormones have an important role in outcomes of influenza” in the sense that they are more resistant.

But influenza isn’t a cold, so it’s not the same thing.

He then looks at some studies into “nasal epithelial cell cultures infected with seasonal influenza”. Again, these suggested that females had a better influenza resistance.

Again, though, man flu isn’t about men with flu…

It’s about men with colds acting as if they have the flu.

He finishes with details of “an unscientific survey completed by readers of a popular magazine” where “men reported taking an average of three days to recover from viral respiratory illness compared with 1.5 days for women.”

However, here’s the bit that will make my women readers angry (or make them laugh).

Kyle Sue quotes some researchers who say that men become more ill as a prehistoric evolutionary strategy for conserving energy and avoiding predators.

He describes “classic modes of energy conservation” for men as:

• lying on the couch

• not getting out of bed

• being helped in difficult daily tasks

These are all ways, apparently, of avoiding predators.

So it seems that back in 100,000 BC, Thag would avoid Sabre Tooth tigers by lying in his cave couch all day while his wife Thagra got on with the housework.

And here’s Kyle’s conclusion…

Male friendly spaces with massive TVs

“Perhaps now is the time for male friendly spaces, equipped with enormous televisions and reclining chairs, to be set up where men can recover from the debilitating effects of man flu in safety and comfort.”

I don’t know about you, but I showed this to some female friends who fell about laughing.

Of course, you might be a man reading this and thinking, “Oi, Sampson, whose side are you on?”

Well, for me, this isn’t really any proof that man-flu is real. It’s some research into flu resistance that then leaps to the conclusion that when men get colds they need a special hospital set up for them with Playstations and TVs.

It’s ludicrous!

But that’s just my opinion.

What’s funnier is the way the newspapers jump onto this by claiming that “scientists” (as if it’s a large section of the scientific community, not one bloke) have “shown” that man flu is real.

They haven’t, that’s all I’m saying.

But hey, a report written by a man, aiming to get special dispensation and a massive TV whenever he gets a sniffle… well, it’s worth a shot!

As he says at the beginning of the report, the reason he embarked on this endeavour was because he was “tired of being accused of over-reacting.”

So I’m sure there’s a hidden backstory here!

The best bit is when he writes….

“Can the blame for man flu be shifted to the people who select these men as sexual partners rather than the men themselves?”

In other worse, ladies, if your man feels really bad with a cold it’s possibly YOUR fault.

So there.
Anyway, I’ll duck out of this fight for now and leave you to draw your own conclusions. The BMJ report is here if you’re interested.

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Until next time,

Stay healthy!


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