Ladies, you’ll be relieved to know that you’re better equipped than men to fight the flu due to your circulating oestrogen!

According to a study conducted by researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA, and published in the American Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology on January 12, 2016, oestrogen reduces the amount of flu virus replicating in infected cells, thereby helping to protect women against the influenza A virus.

The study, entitled ‘Estrogenic compounds reduce influenza A virus replication in primary human nasal epithelial cells derived from female, but not male, donors’, collected male and female nasal cells and exposed them to different types of oestrogens, and then exposed these cells to the influenza A virus.

The researchers concluded oestrogen reduced the rate of viral replication, compared to those cells that received no exposure to the hormone, also suggesting men are more vulnerable to the flu.

This conclusion came as no surprise to the study’s lead researcher, Associate Professor Sabra Klein from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was quoted in an article published in The Sydney Morning Herald article on January 15, 2016 stating previous research in monkeys had similarly found oestrogen helped animals battling HIV.

Despite the biological advantage of oestrogen affording women protection against flu, an annual flu shot, for both men and women, is strongly recommended by health experts in the lead up to winter.