Man flu

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Man flu is a pejorative phrase that refers to the idea that men, when they have a cold, exaggerate and claim they have the flu. Whilst a commonly used phrase in the UK and Ireland, it is referred to in other cultures[1] and there is a continuing discussion over the scientific basis for the phrase.[2]

Popular culture[edit]

A web-based survey of readers of Nuts magazine in late 2006 stirred interest in this notion,[3] which was criticised as unscientific and unreliable.[4][5] It has been suggested that such exaggeration is possibly just as prevalent in women. This condition can only truly be called "man flu" when the sufferer in question has a partner from whom he hopes to solicit extra attention to care for his supposedly grievous symptoms. When the sufferer is alone then the condition can only be the common cold or flu.[6][7] Regardless of any scientific basis, the idea behind man flu has been present in popular culture, and has even been the source of controversy when used in advertising.[8]

Scientific basis[edit]

A study published in 2009 was reported by The Daily Mail and the The Daily Telegraph as supporting the concept that "man flu" does not exist,[9][10] but many believe that the media were misunderstanding or misrepresenting the science.[11] The study had nothing to do with the flu (the experiment was related to bacterial, not viral, infection) and was performed on genetically modified mice rather than human beings, so the results are not necessarily applicable to humans.[12][13]

A 2010 survey by the Office for National Statistics reported on by the BBC World Service suggested that women call in sick twice as often as men do.[14] However, absence from work is not always related to a woman's illness as women are ten times more likely than men to stay at home to care for sick children,[15] and more likely to be caring for elderly relatives.[16]

According to researchers at Cambridge University, evolutionary factors may have led women to develop more rigorous immune systems than men due to differing reproductive strategies.[17] In addition, a 2011 study conducted at the University of Queensland suggests that female hormones (such as oestrogens) aid pre-menopausal women in fighting infections, but the protection is lost after menopause.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Man Flu: A Man's Illness?". ABC News Medical Unit. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  2. ^ Alleyne, Richard (2010-03-24). "Man flu is no myth as scientists prove men suffer more from disease". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 4 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "'Man flu' really exists". Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  4. ^ Boynton, Petra (2006-11-25). "Are reports of "man flu" just Nuts?". British Medical Journal. Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  5. ^ Boynton, Petra (2006-11-14). ""Man Flu" – manufacturing an illness to sell a magazine". Retrieved 2007-02-08. 
  6. ^ "'Man flu' just as prevalent in women". The New Zealand Herald. 20 May 2007. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  7. ^ "'Man flu and other health myths'.". 2007-10-01. 
  8. ^ "Boots advert should not have been made". Men's Health Forum. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Alleyne, Richard (2009-05-12). "Men succumb to manflu because women have stronger immune systems, claim scientists". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  10. ^ MacRae, Fiona (2009-05-13). "Man flu is not a myth: Female hormones give women stronger immune systems". Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  11. ^ "Gender differences in expression of the human caspase-12 long variant determines susceptibility to Listeria monocytogenes infection". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  12. ^ "media - Bad Science". Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  13. ^ "Man flu: real or myth?". NHS. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "BBC - Women 'take more sick leave'". BBC News. London. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  15. ^ "Who Stays Home When the Kids Are Sick?". The Atlantic. Boston. 2014-10-28. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  16. ^ "Women Are More Likely to Care for Aging Parents—And Drop Out of the Workforce to Do It". Slate. Boston. 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2015-07-10. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Full text | Adaptive immunity to rhinoviruses: sex and age matter". Respiratory Research. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 

Link to "Boots advert should not have been made". Men's Health Forum. Retrieved 24 July 2011. Doesn't exist

The source was moved to

Further reading[edit]