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Are Mosquitoes Attracted More to Women Than to Men?

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According to a recent article in the New York Times, mosquitoes find some people tastier than others. While many think they are more attracted to the sweeter sex due to women's higher estrogen levels, the fact is that gender does play a role but not in the way most people think.

As one report in the Annals of Internal Medicine points out, men are more likely to be attacked, primarily because of their body size. "Larger persons tend to attract more mosquitoes," the study said, "perhaps because of their greater relative heat or carbon dioxide."

"In addition to carbon dioxide, lactic acid is strong attractant which is why people are attacked more when they are outside and sweating" said Dr. Clifford W. Bassett of Allergy and Asthma Care of New York. "Mosquitoes can sense these chemicals off the skin from up to 30 meters away," Dr. Bassett added.

Mosquitoes are attracted to women in a similar way. In a Lancet Study in 2000, scientists compared pregnant women with their non-pregnant counterparts and found that pregnant women attracted twice as many mosquitoes. The study found that pregnant women exhaled more carbon dioxide and had higher body temperatures, which allowed mosquitoes to sense them more easily.

Insect repellent containing DEET can help ward off mosquito bites and for those who react strongly to bites, taking an oral antihistamine can lessen the itch after a bite.

THE BOTTOM LINE - Research suggests that men are more likely to be attacked by mosquitoes than are women.

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