Women seem to have better COVID-19 outcomes than men. This is a Why theory

Vaccination and vaccination greatly increase survival from a COVID-19 infection, but many risk factors – such as being biologically male – are beyond everyone’s control. In the US, 20% more men have died from COVID-19 than women, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The scientists hypothesized that the difference in risk between the sexes could be partly attributed to the role the hormone estrogen plays in the immune system.

New research published year Expanded BMJ on the 14th of february linking estrogen levels to women’s likelihood of dying after they become infected with COVID-19. For the study, researchers looked at Sweden’s national health registry data from more than 16,000 women, aged 50 to 80, who had tested positive for COVID-19 since April 1. February 4 to September 14, 2020. Most have spent menopausethe time that estrogen usually drops.
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The researchers were particularly interested in women in the group who were taking medications that affect estrogen levels: 227 were on hormone therapy, an estrogen-lowering breast cancer treatment, and about 2,500 were on hormone replacement therapy, which increases estrogen levels to relieve menopausal symptoms.

After researchers considered the women’s comorbidities, age, and socioeconomic status, they found that women who were taking medications that increase estrogen levels were at increased risk of dying from COVID. -19 was about half higher than in women who did not take drugs that affect estrogen. . (There was also an initial association between taking estrogen-lowering drugs and an increased risk of dying from COVID-19, but after accounting for confounding variables, it was not significant.)

This finding is consistent with findings from others observe learn Dr Franck Mauvais-Jarvis, director of the Laboratory of Sex-Based Medicine at Tulane University (who was not involved in the study) said there is also a link between high estrogen levels and an increased risk of serious illness from COVID- 19 lower. Estrogen – and the hormone progesterone, to a lesser extent – are thought to be involved in the body’s immune response and may curb inflammation, he said. During COVID-19, inflammation can cause a “cytokine storm,” a dangerous condition in which the immune system can become overwhelmed.

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Other search Dr Malin Sund, a professor at Umeå University in Sweden and co-author of the study, said that estrogen can also affect spike protein receptors, which SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID -19 – used to enter cells. new research.

However, as Sund and her authors have shown, randomized clinical trials are needed to determine if the association is causal and if artificially increased estrogen may be protective. recovered from COVID-19. New research is not without its downsides; For example, researchers were not able to examine the women’s hormone levels over time.

Sund stresses that people should not experiment with changing their estrogen levels; Increased estrogen levels can have side effects, such as an increased risk of breast cancer. In contrast, “women who already have breast cancer should absolutely not stop hormone therapy based on this study because they really need breast cancer treatment,” says Sund. “The best they can do is vaccinate.”

Many diseases affect men and women differently, but throughout history, scientific research has focused solely on men. The US National Institutes of Health has not made the inclusion of women in clinical trials an official policy until 1989and it does not require grant applicants to be gender-balanced in cell and animal research until 2014.

Mauvais-Jarvis says studying gender differences and diseases shouldn’t stop with COVID-19. “There are many diseases – not just COVID-19 – that are characterized by differences between men and women,” he said.

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