Equality of the sexes? Not always when it comes to biology

‘Man flu’ is real

According to Cambridge University researchers, evolutionary factors have led to the male system becoming more vulnerable to illness.

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Posted: 28th June 2011 by MaxWild in Health & Nutrition

MUHC researchers demonstrate that estrogen renders the innate immune system of women more powerful than that of men

Montreal, May 11, 2009 – When it comes to immunity, men may not have been dealt an equal hand.

The latest study by Dr. Maya Saleh, of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and McGill University, shows that women have a more powerful immune system than men.

In fact, the production of estrogen by females could have a beneficial effect on the innate inflammatory response against bacterial pathogens.

These surprising results were published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More specifically, estrogen naturally produced in women seems to block the production of an enzyme called Caspase-12, which itself blocks the inflammatory process.

The presence of estrogen would therefore have a beneficial effect on innate immunity, which represents the body’s first line of defence against pathogenic organisms.

“These results demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than men,” said Dr. Saleh.

This study was conducted on mice that lack the Caspase-12 gene, meaning that the mice were extremely resistant to infection.

The human Caspase-12 gene was implanted in a group of male and female mice, yet only the males became more prone to infection.

“We were very surprised by these results, and we determined that the estrogen produced by the female mice blocked the expression of the human Caspase-12 gene,” explained Dr. Saleh.

“We were also able to locate where the estrogen receptor binds on the gene in order to block its expression, which indicates that the hormone exerts direct action in this case.”

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.