A tongue-in-cheek scientific study published by BMJ and authored by Kyle Sue, clinical assistant professor in family medicine hit the news cycle this week giving credibility to the thousands of men who suffer from “man flu”.
Dr Sue concluded that man flu was real and there was evidence to suggest that men needed extra care and attention when suffering from a cold. But is this a valid scientific study and is the evidence conclusive enough to make women all over the globe accept that men really do suffer more?
According to the author, the study was valid because “deeming male viral respiratory symptoms as “exaggerated” without rigorous scientific evidence, could have important implications for men, including insufficient provision of care.”
“Tired of being accused of over-reacting, I searched the available evidence (box) to determine whether men really experience worse symptoms and whether this could have any evolutionary basis,” Mr Sue said.
It’s important to note the (box). When you read the text in the grey box under this statement, it explains that this is a “google” study. So no actual people involved, no blood tests, no laboratory testing. It does reference and draws inferences from actual scientific studies, but it’s a bit like statistics – you can cherry pick the numbers that support your hypothesis.
What was Dr Sue’s google study conclusion?
The concept of man flu, as commonly defined, is potentially unjust. Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women. There are benefits to energy conservation when ill.
Despite the fact that this “study” is obviously part of the annual tradition of BMJ exploring the “lighter” topics over Christmas (aptly described in this article from Gizmodo). MAN-Y news outlets have taken this study as gospel and hard evidence that men should be better supported in their state of “man flu”.
We’re all for Balance
So while we don’t believe that men experience flu symptoms in greater severity than women and that “evolution” is not a good excuse for rendering you incapable of daily life while suffering from a common cold, we do believe, that we should all have a bit of time out and take better care of our health.
Let’s face it; men often struggle to understand their feelings (let alone ours) – so if expressing man flu is their way of “taking time out” and getting some much-needed attention – who are we to deny them and more importantly why don’t we do the same?
Now and then, it would be nice if they were in touch with their balance and called it for what is was – but that’s another story for another day.
PS> While while the study is technically “legit” and we acknowledge a man’s right to have some downtime, we do take offence to the surprisingly inaccurate footnote:
Competing interests: I have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and declare that I have no competing interests.
Is the author not a man? Does he therefore not have competing interests?
What do you think? Vote “yes” for manflu is real or “no” manflu is all in his head in the comments at the bottom of the page.
We recommend you read the original, release of the study here
Other coverage we found entertaining…