Men 'do suffer when they get cold'

Researchers have shown that the male immune system is less effective at fighting off infections than the female system and that means men feel worse when battling illness than women.

For the study, a team, led by Dr Ramona Scotland at Queen Mary University of London, analysed the immune systems of mice and rats given a host of different infections. They looked at the white blood cells in the lungs and stomach which act as the body’s first line of defence against infection.

"We found that the females had around twice as many white blood cells than males which was a huge surprise. When we started to look at how these white blood cells behaved we found that not only were there more cells, but that the cells were more responsive to bacteria and other invaders – and that they worked more effectively.

"Crucially, they didn't release as many of the chemicals that stimulate the immune system response. It's the release of these mediators that makes you feel lousy when you're fighting off an infection," the 'Daily Express' quoted her as saying.

For all types of illness, the female mice and rats were less sick than the male, the researchers said.

"I believe that the same will be true for people because this is a very ancient part of the mammal's immune response. Man flu is a bit of a joke but from what I'm seeing there is a real difference," she added.

The findings have been published in the latest edition of the 'Blood' journal.

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