So I found this article on sciencedaily.com about the immune systems of men and women. As it turns out, women have better immune systems than men. The article says that this is all because of the X chromosome which contains several X chromosome-located strands of microRNA that have important functions in immunity and cancer. This is a likely explanation for the fact that women tend to live longer than men. What I thought was particularly interesting was that the author decided to lead with a line about the phrase ‘man-flu’ . Maybe I’m just ignorant here, but I’ve never heard of this. So, naturally, I googled it. Not surprisingly, it turned up on wikipedia and urban dictionary, with a definition roughly translating to the idea that when men get a mild cold, they exaggerate and call it the ‘flu’ or make it sound more life-threatening than it is.
Now I’m not sure that there is any scientific evidence for this, however maybe this would be an interesting psychological phenomenon to study. We could take the psychiatric approach and investigate if men have a psychological tendency to exaggerate physical discomfort. On the other hand, we could look for differences in physiological reactions to the same stressor between men and women. Maybe women are better at ‘fighting it off’ than men, and they really aren’t exaggerating. Not sure that this psychological phenomenon is worth studying, but it sure is interesting to think about how popular myth could be examined scientifically.