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Men more prone to malaria, think city researchers

mumbai Updated: Aug 01, 2010 02:04 IST
Neha Bhayana

Men could be more susceptible to malaria than women. And, it's not because the female anopheles mosquito, which transmits malaria, bites more men, but because of hormonal differences.

Preliminary findings of an ongoing research by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) scientists, in collaboration with Mumbai doctors, have indicated that men aged between 15 and 40 could be more likely to get malaria when infected by the parasite (via mosquito bites) than women in the same age group.

The team analysed records of 30,000 patients who went to KEM and Kasturba hospitals with malaria-like symptoms between 2001 and 2005. They observed that a majority of the patients were men.

Roughly, 12 per cent of men who underwent the blood test were diagnosed with malaria whereas while six per cent of women tested positive, said Dr Shobhona Sharma, one of the researchers.

"In children, both sexes are affected by the parasite in the same manner, but the moment one goes to the pubertal age group, men tend to show and experience the symptoms more than women," said Sharma.

"We think the hormones testosterone and oestrogen may be influencing the way immune cells react when exposed to the parasite."

While research on humans is still to be concluded, the team's recently published research on mice has shown that female mice react against the malaria parasite sooner than male mice.