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Why Women Feel Colder Than Men

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With bitter cold temperatures on their way to Chicago, there will surely be some fights over how high to set the thermostat.

The mercury will top out at a high of about 14 degrees on Tuesday and it won't get back into the 20s until Friday. Overnight during the next few days, the temperature will drop as low as six degrees below zero, with wind chills of 20 to 30 degrees below zero at some points.

If your family is like most households, dad will say you should keep the thermostat down to save money on the gas bill -- you can put on a sweater if you feel too cold -- and mom will say jack up the temperature a few degrees so she can stop shivering.

When it comes to women compared to men and temperature settings, more often than not, women will say they feel colder. Turns out, there's a biological explanation behind this heated battle at the thermostat.

Women conserve more heat around their core organs, which means less heat circulates throughout the rest of their body.

It can often lead to a tug-of-war over the thermostat. That fight can get worse at night, when our bodies produce less cortisol.

According to Dr. Tamara Kuittimen, cortisol is a very powerful hormone. It's your fight hormone. So it keeps you warm, gets your adrenaline roaring and helps with body warming.

As it gets later, women can get even colder.

Some cars even enable you to control the temperature independently on each side.

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton joined "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill to share some insight on the thermostat wars.

Beside the biological reason, are other factors involved?

"The answer is 'yes,' Ashton replied. "There can an combination of factors at play. You talk about medical reasons. Probably the two most common for women are anemia or a low blood count or an underactive or low-fuctioning thyroid. Both of those can make you feel colder. Very easy to diagnose and treat."

If this news is giving you the chills, don't fret - there could be some benefits to being colder. What are the perks?

Being exposed to cooler temperatures -- around 62 to 66 degrees -- can help produce "brown fat," a type of fat that is found in abundance in newborns because they cannot shiver. Brown acts like an internal furnace by generating body heat. A new study also shows that brown fat takes calories from normal fat and burns calories.

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