Are Females the Stronger Sex? One Study Shows Estrogen Protects Against the Flu!

10 Mar

The debate has raged for centuries. Which is the stronger sex? Now, science has evidence that females are tougher than males, at least when it comes to the flu virus.

When an individual comes into contact with the flu virus, whether or not they experience symptoms depends on how much the virus can replicate in they body before succumbing to the immune system. In other words, the more times it replicates itself, the more damage the virus can do. Accordingly, the less the virus replicates itself, the less damage it will do and the less it will make you sick. Less replication also means less chance of spreading from person to person.

Here’s why females seem to have protection against the flu…

A research team gathered nasal cells—the cell type that the flu virus primarily infects—from male and female donors. The researchers then exposed the cells to the virus along with estrogen, the environmental estrogen bisphenol A, or selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERM), which are compounds that act like estrogen that are used for hormone therapy.

The researchers found that estrogen, SERM compound raloxifene, and bisphenol A reduced flu virus replication in the nasal cells taken from women but not in those from men.

Dr. Sabra Klein of Johns Hopkins University writes, “Other studies have shown that estrogens have antiviral properties against HIV, Ebola, and hepatitis viruses. What makes our study unique is two-fold. First, we conducted our study using primary cells directly isolated from patients, allowing us to directly identify the sex-specific effect of estrogens. Second, this is the first study to identify the estrogen receptor responsible for the antiviral effects of estrogens, bringing us closer to understanding the mechanisms mediating this conserved antiviral effect of estrogens.”

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