Why Men Get Sicker Than Women

Men 'live fast, die young,' so immunity is traded for sex drive
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2010 3:41 PM CDT
Updated Mar 28, 2010 11:49 AM CDT
The theory in action.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The phenomenon euphemistically referred to as “man flu”—the notion that men get sicker and sick more often than women—is real, researchers say. British doctors swear the theory is upheld by sophisticated computer models: The male immune system is underdeveloped compared to the female because men are historically more adventurous, and thus get sicker more often.

Because men are likely to become reinfected quickly, there isn’t much evolutionary benefit in quickly overcoming disease. Instead, males developed the ability to effectively procreate while sick, thus giving credence not only to “man flu” but also the old adage “live fast, die young.” Sure, it’s a “counterintuitive situation,” one researcher tells the Telegraph, “but above a certain level of exposure, the benefit of rapid recovery in males decreases owing to constant reinfection.”

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