Nobody thinks about the flu during Super Bowl, but football fans, take note: You run the risk of being blindsided by the flu if you let your defenses down on Super Bowl Sunday, researchers warn. They analyzed data from areas that had teams in the Super Bowl between 1974 and 2009 and found that those regions had an 18 percent spike in flu-related deaths among people older than 65, one of the groups of people most vulnerable to the flu.
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The findings were strongest in years with more virulent flu strains, or when the Super Bowl occurred closer to the peak of the flu season, according to the study in the winter issue of the American Journal of Health Economics.
“The mechanism that’s driving this is the increased socialization that happens as a result of the team being successful,” study author Nicholas Sanders, an assistant professor of economics at Cornell University’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management, in Ithaca, N.Y., said in a university news release.