If you’ve found that one of the mysteries of marital bliss is your wife’s tendency to get sick less than you, get better faster than you, and generally complain about the whole thing a lot less than you, you’re not imagining it. Research suggests women have naturally tougher immune systems than men and therefore don’t succumb succumb to Man Flu (or Man Cold, as they call it across the pond).
That’s apparently because of their estrogen, which reduces the flu’s ability to replicate in their nasal cells and indicates that the hormone may carry protective qualities. The finding complements past studies that show estrogen may fight hepatitis and HIV, while testosterone can actually weaken the effectiveness of a flu shot if you have too much of the stuff. Unfortunately, given that the new research took place in petri dishes and not actual bodies, science is a long way from developing a form of estrogen you could take to ward off illness. And it’s even further away from developing a form you could take to ward off illness without also developing breasts at the same time.
On the one hand, this is great news for the next time you get sick — you can legitimately claim that your wife needs to tend to you like the invalid you are because she clearly has no idea how much pain you’re in. On the other hand, it’s yet one more thing — along with directions and roughhousing — in which she may be biologically superior.