It has not been scientifically proven that you can catch a cold from being cold.
More Info: There are very few scientific links between the temperature outside and the incubation of a common cold. In fact, the most statistically common way for people to catch the common cold involves a third party sneezing on their hand and later shaking another person’s hand, or touching a common object such as doorknob. Even if the person who already has the common cold sneezes into a handkerchief rather than a bare hand, some of the germs can still escape onto that person’s hand and be later transmitted.
Studies Refuting the Cold from Cold Theory
One of the more fascinating studies relating to the myth of being able to catch a cold from being cold took place in 1958. American researcher H.F. Dowling gathered 400 volunteers and exposed them to common cold-causing viruses against the backdrop of three different temperature environments. Some were exposed to severe cold while wearing warm clothing; some were put into a 60-degree environment wearing only their underwear; and others were allowed to bask in 80 degrees. Across the board, all individuals caught the common cold at the same rate of infection. Another U.S. scientist, R.G. Douglas Jr., obtained similar results in 1968 with an experiment involving Texas inmates.
Study Substantiating the Cold from Cold Theory
But as with many scientific pronouncements, there are exceptions to the general rule. In 2005, a pair of researchers at the University of Cardiff in Wales split up a group of 180 volunteers into two groups. One-half sat with their feet immersed in ice water for 20 minutes while the other half put their feet in similar but empty bowls. In the ensuing days, three times more people from the former group (29%) developed common cold symptoms than the rate of members of the latter group (9%). The overall conclusion of the university’s Common Cold Center was that the cold caused reduced nose defenses, which in turn allowed dormant infections to take root.
CNN – “‘Wrap Up’ Advice to Stop Colds”, November 14, 2005, Retrieved October 6, 20010 from http://articles.cnn.com/2005-11-14/health/cold.chill_1_cold-symptoms-cold-weather-cold-air?_s=PM:HEALTH
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