Health & Environment by Débora Miranda

‘Why everything you thought about COLDS is wrong!’

I wasn’t sneezing nor coughing anymore when I read another follow-up of  Jennifer Ackerman’s new truths about colds: an adaptation written by Charlotte Dovey on yesterday’s Daily Mail.

Let me remind you that science writer Melinda Wenner Moyer had highlighted the difference between the strength of our immune system 1) when preventing a cold and 2) while fighting the cold infection once it has been established. This distinction is essential when judging our immune system performance, as some factors such as vitamin C may prevent a cold better than stopping it.

So imagining that our immune system has failed to prevent a specific cold infection (because your daily routine didn’t leave you time for healthier meals), let’s have a look at some of what Jennifer Ackerman found out that compromised our basic knowledge about colds:

1) You can’t catch a cold by kissing. Although this may surprise many people, a research at the University of Wisconsin Medical School has shown that the largest family of cold viruses rarely enters the body through the mouth. It appears to take as much as 8.000 times as much virus to cause infection from saliva than by other ways.

2) Staying indoors won’t protect you. Firstly, because your computer mouse and your desk are amongst the greatest sources of cold viruses. Secondly, because winter drives people indoors, where it becomes easier for viruses to jump from one person to another.

3) On the other hand, socializing won’t put you at risk. Did you know that people who socialize with many different people suffer fewer colds than those with smaller circles of friends? A wide social group contributes to a healthier lifestyle, which means that meeting a great variety of people does not increase your risk, as you may have thought.

4) Older people are not more vulnerable. Although they are risk-patients for many diseases, teenagers catch twice as many colds as people over 50 years old. The more colds you have been exposed to, the more antibodies you have developed to common cold viruses.

Scientists have discovered that our reception cells – those that “absorb” the viruses – as well as the amounts of inflammatory chemicals in our bodies differ from person to person. This explains why some people suffer more colds than normal. At the end of the day, it’s all about where we are coming from. Or, in Charlotte Dovey’s words: “blame your genes”.


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