A recent outbreak of E. coli in 11 states has been linked by government investigators with sliced ​​romaine lettuce bred in Yuma, Arizona. Consumer reports recommend – for the second time since January – that consumers shun all romaine lettuce for

There is one eye-catching aspect of New E. coli outbreak with Arizona-Romaine salad: 70% of women are female

The same applies to leafy vegetables that suffered from E. coli outbreaks last year, 67% of which were women or girl. In 2016, women accounted for 73% of those who developed an outbreak of alfalfa sprouts, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medical experts have wondered why women and girls are more common victims of E. coli men and boys. Dr. Bruce Lee, professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University, says there are three possible reasons for this trend:

The most likely factor is the diet of women, which contains more vegetables. A 2012 study of nearly 15,000 men and women published in the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found a higher rate of male meat and some poultry than women who ate fruits and vegetables in higher proportions.

This may explain why a 2016 outbreak of E. coli from beef products affects more men than women, CDC statistics show. Yet, women accounted for the majority of those affected by an outbreak in 2015 tied to Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad.

More about E. coli: CDC extends E.coli warning: All romaine lettuce should be thrown, crushed or not

Read more: NJ Woman Infects with E. Coli Complaints Against Romaine Lettuce

British officials also suggested that women's diets could be the cause of the weakened numbers of E. coli infections. In an outbreak of E. coli in 2011 with cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes more women than men fell ill reported The Guardian .

"We can not say with absolute certainty why women are disproportionately affected," said Bob Adak, head of the UK's Health Protection Agency, the 2011 newspaper, "but in earlier outbreaks around the world associated with salad vegetables women and adults are more affected than men and children, so this may be an indicator of food preference. "

Another factor, Lee says, may be the difference in how men and women report their symptoms Doctors. The high numbers for women could be due to the fact that more of them forward information to physicians. Lee said studies show men are less likely to report symptoms of any type of disease.

Finally, it has been suggested that women respond more to E. coli due to differences in their gastrointestinal tracts. Although, Lee said, there is no strong evidence to support this. Different results between gender and race, he added, are often dependent on social and behavioral differences, not on biological traits.

The E. coli outbreak in conjunction with romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona area has resulted in at least 53 illnesses and 31 hospitalizations. The CDC calls everyone to throw away any romaine lettuce from this region.

And Lee, who is also director of the Johns Hopkins Global Obesity Prevention Center, emphasizes that this is no excuse for not eating vegetables.

Follow Sean Rossman on Twitter: @SeanRossman

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