Man flu is a pejoratively used 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 and there is a continuing discussion over the scientific basis for the phrase.
A web-based survey of readers of Nuts magazine in late 2006 stirred interest in this notion, which was criticised as unscientific and unreliable. 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. 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.
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, but many believe that the media were misunderstanding or misrepresenting the science. 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.
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. 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, and more likely to be caring for elderly relatives.
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. 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.
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Link to "Boots advert should not have been made". Men's Health Forum. Retrieved 24 July 2011. Doesn't exist