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Research had proven that cold weather per se won’t make you sick. It was the close quarters of the season that were to blame for the spread of all those viruses and bacteria, we thought. Alas, mom may have been right after all. In a new study out of Yale, researchers have discovered that when it comes to our immune systems, cold temperatures can allow the common cold to flourish in our bodies.
"In general, the lower the temperature, it seems the lower the innate immune response to viruses," said senior author and Yale professor of immunobiology Akiko Iwasaki in a Yale News piece on the study.
Instead of looking at how temperatures affect the rhinovirus — the main culprit in causing colds — Iwasaki and her colleagues looked at how cold temperatures might depress our immune system's ability to cope with the virus.
They sampled cells taken from the airways of mice, which were chilled to 33 degrees Celsius, four degrees lower than the mice’s core body temperature. At the lower temperature, the immune response was "impaired," they found, and the virus fared better.
Sure, the research at this point remains mouse-centric. But for the 20 per cent of us who host the rhinovirus in our noses as any given time, according to the Yale News piece, this is a clue as to how we might curb the virus in the future.
For now, a nose-concealing scarf is not a bad place to start, especially during the deep-freeze much of Canada is enjoying this season. Maybe your mom will even be kind enough not to say "I told you so."
Looking for more cold season tips? How to stop the spread of germs and what foods may help your immune system.