A braai at Zoo Lake. Picture: Puleng Nguxe

Firing up the braai is seen by many South African men as their sacred duty – but it appears that women are born for the role.

Scientists have found that women’s lungs are more resistant to smoke than men’s.

The reason is not clear but one theory is that, over millions of years of evolution, women may have been more exposed to wood smoke from involvement in cooking.

In the research by the University of North California School of Medicine men and women were left to breathe in an atmosphere with wood smoke. They were then exposed to a flu virus vaccine that produces a natural, but mild immune response in the nasal passages.

They found exposure to wood smoke triggered higher levels of inflammation in the men than the women.

The responses could be explained by male and female genetics but co-author Professor Ilona Jaspers added: ‘We wonder if a greater wood smoke exposure has led to evolutionary pressure on women to have a more blunted inflammatory response, which would probably result in less damage to the airway during respiratory virus infection.’

The researchers warn that wood smoke has a very different composition to cigarette smoke, and there is no evidence to suggest women are more resistant to tobacco fumes.

© Daily Mail