Great news for all women out there! This past week, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health announced that, thanks to estrogen, women are less likely to get the flu than their male counterparts.
Sabra Klein, an associate professor at JHB, has been studying the effects of estrogen on virus replication, and the stuff they found out was pretty cool! The study revealed that estrogen actually weakens the flu virus in nasal cells, keeping it from replicating and spreading to other cells. This lessens the severity of the disease, and also lowers the chances of the virus spreading to a new host. Awesome, right?
The catch, though? Estrogen only reduced flu virus replication in females, not in males. So while women who are taking medications that increase estrogen (like certain types of birth control, for example) may find that they’re better protected against viruses like the flu, unfortunately the estrogen present in men doesn’t do anything to decrease their likeliness of catching the flu.
They’re not sure why the effects of estrogen on the virus replication are only present in women, and it’s a huge area in research that deserves future study. For now, though, women around the world can take comfort in knowing that they’ve got a slight layer of protection (however small) against the flu.
Want to read more about the research? You can check it out here.