Not that long ago, it was suggested that male coronavirus sufferers should be treated with topical estrogen patches. Such treatments are apparently still being investigated.
A new study has suggested, contrary to earlier reports, that having low testosterone may actually put you at risk of more severe Coronavirus symptoms.
Coronavirus and Low Testosterone
Analyses have shown that men tend to develop more severe Coronavirus symptoms than women, and it was hypothesised that differing hormone levels – namely, higher testosterone and lower estrogen in men – might be the cause. As a result of this observation and hypothesis, it has been suggested that male sufferers of the virus could be treated with topical application of estrogen to reduce the severity of their symptoms.
“During the pandemic, there has been a prevailing notion that testosterone is bad,” said senior author of the new study Abhinav Diwan, MD. “But we found the opposite in men. If a man had low testosterone when he first came to the hospital, his risk of having severe COVID-19 — meaning his risk of requiring intensive care or dying — was much higher compared with men who had more circulating testosterone. And if testosterone levels dropped further during hospitalization, the risk increased.”
The new study provides yet another reason – as if you needed one – not to be like these ‘men’
The study involved measuring various hormones in blood samples from 90 men and 62 women who came to Barnes-Jewish Hospital with confirmed cases of the illness. The researchers measured hormone levels periodically, at days 3, 7, 14 and 28, for as long as the patients remained hospitalized. As well as testosterone, the researchers measured levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, and IGF-1, an important growth hormone that plays a role in the maintenance of muscle mass.
Among women, the researchers found no correlation between levels of any hormone and disease severity, whereas among men, only testosterone levels were linked to COVID-19 severity. A blood testosterone level of 250 ng/dl or less is considered low testosterone in adult men. At hospital admission, men with severe COVID-19 had average testosterone levels of 53 ng/dl; men with less severe disease had average levels of 151 ng/dl. By day three, the average testosterone level of the most severely ill men was only 19 ng/dl.
Coronavirus and Testosterone Crisis
Yesterday, we noted that young adults had the lowest testosterone levels in recorded history and continue to be in freefall. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns have led to tremendous weight gain in the average young adult. Most hospital admissions for severe coronavirus symptoms have been for obese and overweight patients. Fat, as we’ve noted several times in the past, is highly estrogenic and suppressive to natural endogenous production of testosterone.
In short, the lower the testosterone, the more severe the disease. Those men with the least testosterone were at highest risk of going on a ventilator, needing intensive care or dying. Thirty-seven patients — 25 of whom were men — died during the course of the study.
The researchers noted that other factors known to increase the risk of severe COVID-19 coronavirus, including advanced age, obesity and diabetes, also are associated with lower testosterone. We have recently written about the association between diabetes and low testosterone in two articles (here and here) and written at length about the various conditions associated with low testosterone, including obesity.
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“The groups of men who were getting sicker were known to have lower testosterone across the board,” said first author Sandeep Dhindsa, MD. “We also found that those men with COVID-19 who were not severely ill initially, but had low testosterone levels, were likely to need intensive care or intubation over the next two or three days. Lower testosterone levels seemed to predict which patients were likely to become very ill over the next few days.”
It’s worth noting that the study could not prove that low testosterone is a cause of severe COVID-19; low levels could simply serve as a marker of some other causal factors. Even so, given their results, the researchers have urged caution with ongoing clinical trials investigating hormonal therapies that block or lower testosterone or increase estrogen as a treatment for men with COVID-19.
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