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Heat vs. Colds

July 14, 2016

Keeping warm may help protect us from catching colds.


8462234433_de89f4c8d5_h Brandon Atkinson CC BY 2.0, via flickr

There’s a reason grown-ups told you to bundle up when you were a kid. (Brandon Atkinson/CC BY 2.0, via flickr)


Fighting colds with warmth. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists have discovered that your grandmother was right: going out in cold weather without bundling up can boost your risk of catching a cold. According to Yale immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki, our immune systems can’t protect us as effectively when our body temperature drops. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she and her colleagues report that when viruses infect our cells, the cells commit suicide to stop the virus from replicating inside them and spreading to other cells. But low temperatures prevent our cells from self-destructing.

AKIKO IWASAKI (Yale University):

Cells are relatively more protected from cell death at the lower temperature. So when the cell doesn’t die after being infected, that allows the virus to replicate even higher.


She says that keeping warm could not only help prevent catching colds, but may also help our bodies fight off infections we already have. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon