Newly discovered, estrogen in women can reduce the severity of COVID-19

Role of estrogen in reducing the severity of COVID-19

One of the first epidemiological observations that emerged early in China during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that men were at greater risk of severe illness than women. A large meta-analysis in late 2020 verified those initial suspicions, finding men nearly three times more likely to require intensive care treatment and to have a higher risk of death.

Scientists have been trying to understand why men seem to have more severe cases of COVID-19 than women, and have hypothesized that testosterone plays some role in these epidemiological observations. But on the other hand, researchers are also now starting to find evidence that estrogen may also play a protective role in reducing COVID-19 severity in women.

Newly discovered, estrogen in women can reduce the severity of COVID-19 - Photo 1.

Clinical trials needed to explore whether estrogen supplementation can prevent severe COVID-19 in middle-aged women?

In the new study, published in the journal BMJ Open, which looked at retrospective data from public health records in Sweden; focused on women over 50 years of age with confirmed COVID-19. The researchers created three groups:

Women using estrogen blockers (group 1) Women on hormone replacement therapy – HRT (group 2) and the control group, the women who did not receive any systemic estrogen-boosting or decreasing treatments (group 3).

The results showed that women in the estrogen-reduced control group (group 3) were twice as likely to die from COVID-19 as women using hormone replacement therapy (group 2). In turn, the risk of dying from COVID-19 for women receiving increased estrogen (group 2) was 2.1%, compared with an estrogen blocker group (group 1) of 10.1%. The middle control group showed a 4.6% risk of dying from COVID-19.

The researchers concluded: “This study demonstrates an association between estrogen levels and COVID-19 mortality. Therefore, drugs that increase estrogen levels may play a role in treatment efforts. to reduce the severity of COVID-19 in postmenopausal women and could be studied in randomized controlled trials”.

But according to Dr. Stephen Evans, of the London School of Tropical Medicine, concluding that older women would be able to benefit from estrogen supplements to reduce their risk of severe COVID-19 disease requires further research to confirm.

He points out that these observational studies often have many confounding factors. There is a long history of observational studies, particularly involving hormone therapy, that have made claims of benefit but have not been confirmed in randomized trials.

It is very possible that this study moves in that direction, and extreme caution should be exercised at least in thinking that hormone replacement therapy for postmenopausal women will have any significant benefit in dealing with COVID-19. However, there have been ongoing trials exploring the effects of estrogen on COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. So answers are needed soon as to whether estrogen supplementation offers any protection from severe COVID-19.

However, previous observational studies have consistently shown a relationship between low estrogen levels and severe COVID-19. A large UK study echoed these findings from Sweden, which found lower rates of death from COVID-19 among women on HRT. Another interesting study from 2020 found that women taking combined oral contraceptives (containing estrogen and progestin) experienced less severe COVID-19 symptoms than those not taking the pill.

According to Le Minh

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