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Study: Flu Vaccine May Be More Effective For Women

BOSTON (CBS) - Brace yourself, the worst of flu season is still to come.

"This year they are predicting it's going to be a particularly bad year," says emergency department doctor Dr. Jake Deutsch.

But for women, a possible reprieve. A study from Stanford School of Medicine found that the flu vaccine might be more effective for women than men.

"Are men less equipped to deal with infection? Technically, yes," explains Dr. Deutsch. Turns out women create more disease-fighting antibodies than men when given the shot.

It's believed testosterone suppresses a man's reaction to the flu vaccine. On the flip side, estrogen may be the key to fighting off some respiratory infections for women.

And this is a benefit that may go beyond a virus like the flu. A Harvard University study found estrogen helped treat bacterial pneumonia in mice. So yes in some cases men just might get sicker than women.

"There's an idea there that estrogen, which is native to women's endocrine system, is because part of their role is to be nurturers. They have to take care of not only themselves but their families," says Dr. Deutsch.

And Dr. Deutsch says down the road these studies could lead to immune boosting drugs specifically for men, "I think that there's the possibility of somehow delivering the key elements, the estrogen to men in a safe way."

Now, no one is suggesting men receive estrogen supplements. But instead a mother's advice might be best to boost the immune system like getting plenty of rest and eating your fruits and veggies.


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