Falling in love may boost infection-fighting genes in women thereby regulating their immune system, a new study claims.
The study published in the journal, Psychoneuroendocrinology, was aimed at finding out if new romantic relationships were associated with favourable health.
Researchers from Tulane University’s School of Science and Engineering carried out regulated experiments with university students who were tracked for 24 months.
A total of 47 women completed the research, which included blood draws and biweekly questionnaires.
Researchers only considered healthy women who were not taking drugs and were in a new relationship (less than a month) for the study.
“What we found was that women who fell in love had increased activity of genes involved in antiviral defences, compared to when they began the study,” said Damian Murray, an assistant professor at the US university said.
“No similar change was observed in women who did not fall in love. This could reflect a kind of a proactive response to anticipating future intimate contact, given that most viruses are spread via close physical contact.
“However, this increased activity of antiviral genes is also consistent with the biological preparation of the body for pregnancy. From this women-only sample, both of these interpretations remain possible.”
Noting that the study was not without its challenges, Murray said further studies would attempt unravelling the “implications for both immediate and long-term health”.