Does it ever seem to you that the men in your life get sick more easily than the women do? You’ve heard the humorous anecdotes about how men are babies when they get sick, but you may be surprised to learn that the boys in your life actually cannot bounce back as easily as you can.
Studies have confirmed that the biological differences between men and women in relation to certain illnesses actually prevent men from healing as easily as women do. Learn more about five factors that may contribute to men being at a disadvantage when contracting and recovering from a health condition.
1. Higher Testosterone Levels Lower Immunity
A National Academy of Sciences study conducted in 2014 found connections between high levels of testosterone, which typically occur in men as opposed to women, and a weakened immune system response to the flu. The research examined the responses of groups of men and women to an influenza vaccine, and results showed that not only women but also men with lower testosterone levels demonstrated a stronger immune response. Increased testosterone levels in men are also linked to the module 52 gene, which has a negative impact on immunity overall, so take it easy on your hubby when he gets the flu and you don’t; unfortunately, he’s more susceptible to the condition and deserves your TLC.
2. Lower Estrogen Levels May Impact Susceptibility To Rhinovirus
Correlating with the fact that men generally have significantly higher testosterone levels than women, naturally occurring low estrogen levels in men may point to a predilection for illnesses such as rhinovirus. A University of Queensland study on immune system response to viruses causing colds, coughs and flu produced evidence that pre-menopausal women are predisposed to illness protection. The study suggests that both men and post-menopausal women have a harder time fighting off these infections. As estrogen is typically highest in pre-menopausal women, the connection between this hormone and increased immunity is being studied further. Nonetheless, when your boys catch a cold, good, old-fashioned chicken soup has been shown to ease symptoms and encourage healing, so whip up a batch or pick up a healthy option at your local grocery store. Remember, you’ll get over it quicker than they will.
3. Evolutionary Factors Leave Men More Prone To Infection
Researchers who focus on the evolutionary differences between men and women lend credence to the theory that men’s weaker immunity and increased chance of illness are occurrences that date back centuries. The findings of a University of Cambridge study show that evolutionary factors, such as adventurous living, hormonal mechanisms, and the absence of the immune system protection brought about by pregnancy in women may give men a lower risk of surviving infection than women.
4. Certain Biomarkers May Increase The Risk Of Cardiovascular Issues
Immune system-related illnesses are not the only type of health complication that researchers study when examining gender differences in fighting disease. In the study of a cardiovascular disease known as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, men with the condition were determined to be less protected than similarly-affected women, due to the differences in various biomarkers, including lipoprotein A. A healthy diet is important no matter what, but if your men are genetically prone to cardiovascular issues, it’s time to put your entire family on a heart-healthy diet and exercise regimen.
5. Men May Engage In More Risk-Taking Behaviors Affecting Health
In addition to drawing conclusions about hormone levels, evolution and biomarkers contributing to a poorer ability for men to fight off illness, researchers mention that the higher likelihood of men engaging in certain behaviors may also be a factor to consider. Examples of behaviors that pose a risk to overall health, as well as the capacity to recover from sickness, include smoking cigarettes, eating a diet low in nutrients, being overweight, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and avoiding medical checkups at the first sign of symptoms.
Though biological factors affecting bodily health are a fact of life for men, taking precautions to avoid risky practices can help men to better protect themselves against disease, so encourage your guy to maintain a healthy lifestyle and schedule regular medical checkups. After all, the facts are in, and he has less of a chance of recovering from illness than you do, so prevention is the best medicine!