the flu-fighting power of estrogen

Estrogen Protects Women Against Flu, Men Left Sick, Weak, Begging for Soup

A man, sick. (Typical.)
A man, sick. (Typical.) Photo: amanaimages/Corbis

Women, do you feel strong today? Sort of like you don’t have the flu? Hmm. According to a new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins University, that could be because you are a beautiful and powerful woman, rather than some sort of man whose characteristics we consider ourselves too kindhearted to list.

Viruses make you sick by entering a host cell and replicating inside of it, and then spreading throughout your body. This isn’t something on which I would force you to trust me — you can double-check for yourself here, in this study. (See?) The severity of the virus is determined by how much it has replicated, and, according to the study, estrogen helps to reduce the replication of influenza A virus in women. So there:

To examine how estrogen affected the flu virus’s ability to replicate, the research team gathered nasal cells—the cell type that the flu virus primarily infects—from male and female donors. The researchers exposed the cell cultures to the virus, estrogen, the environmental estrogen bisphenol A and 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 nasal cells from women but not men. They also observed that the estrogens initiated their antiviral effects through estrogen receptor beta. Receptors are protein structures that molecules bind with to induce cells to respond.

Huh. Well. Please, let us know if you need any medicine or tissues. We will messenger it over while we are out somewhere else, living our lives flu-free or at least potentially with a less severe flu, because of estrogen. Get well soon!

Men More Prone to Flu Virus, Hah, So There