NEW YORK -- The next time a guy you know gets the flu, you may want to show him a little more sympathy.
A new study shows that men may be more likely to catch the flu than women and suffer more from the symptoms, CBS New York reports.
That's unfortunate news for many men, since experts say a flu-filled winter could be on the way.
"This year they are predicting that it's going to be a particularly bad year," said Dr. Jake Deutsch, clinical director at CURE Urgent Care, told CBS2's Maurice Dubois. Health officials say this year's flu vaccine is less effective than usual against certain strains of the virus, leaving many people vulnerable even if they got a flu shot.
The study from Stanford University School of Medicine found that the flu vaccine may be more effective in women than in men, and for women who do get the flu, the study found they are better at fighting the virus off.
"Are men less equipped to deal with infection? Technically, yes," Deutsch said.
The reason, according to the study that was conducted on mice, is the female sex hormone estrogen.
"The female mice that produced estrogen produced an enzyme and that enzyme was able to help them fight infection," Deutsch explained.
It may be a simple result of evolution. "There's an idea there that estrogen, which is native to women's endocrine system, is there because part of their role is to be nurturers. They have to take care of not only themselves, but their families," he said.
Some women, however, interpreted the findings a bit differently: as scientific evidence backing up what they already believed, that men are bigger babies when it comes to getting sick.
"They seem to whine more and they seem to want to ride it out longer," one woman told CBS New York.
"They think they don't need help and they don't accept help, and they don't take medicine," another woman said.
Of course, some men disagreed, but Deutsch had to admit he's seen signs of it himself. "Anecdotally, I can say that a lot of times guys are wimpier when it comes to being sick," he said.
The study could eventually help pave the way for new immune-boosting drugs.
"I think there is the possibility of somehow delivering the key elements of estrogen to men in a safe way in order to activate that enzyme," Deutsch said.