For whatever reason, SARS-CoV-2 seems to be killing more men than women. Some have implicated testosterone in this!
Seeing as increasing testosterone levels is something we’re very focused on here at Lost Empire Herbs I felt this was worth exploring further.
Does COVID19 Affect Hormones?
ACE2 receptors, by which SARS-CoV-2 gains entry into cells, are found abundantly in the testes. High amounts of ACE2 receptors can also be found in the mouth and nasal mucosa, lungs, heart, kidneys and elsewhere.
A study done in Hubei looked at 81 infected men as compared to controls. The following hormones are mentioned:
- T = Testosterone
- LH = Luteinizing Hormone
- PRL = Prolactin
- FSH = Follicle Stimulating Hormone
- E2 = Estradiol (the main type of Estrogen)
They found “Although serum testosterone levels did not statistically change in the COVID-19 group, a significant increase in serum LH level and a dramatic decrease in serum T: LH were observed…The serum PRL level also significantly elevated in COVID-19 patients…Unlike serum LH level, serum FSH, serum E2 and the ratio of T: E2 were not significantly different between the COVID-19 group and the control group.”
Before you go running off and trying to alter these specific hormone levels recognize that this was a fairly small study.
They write, “due to the small size of samples, only 2 mild cases, 7 severe cases and 2 very severe cased are included in, which may affect the power of statistical analysis…in the condition of COVID-19, some other factors such as stress and corticosteroid therapy may also influence hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis.”
They mention more around their hypothesis that this could be an issue, but honestly I would take any conclusions here with a grain of salt. With measuring that many different hormones, not to mention looking at ratios, some data was bound to be found!
Male vs. Female Fatality Rate
A study coming out of China of 44,000 confirmed cases shows a fatality rate of 2.8% for men and 1.7% for women. This was with 51% men infected.
The main hypothesis on why this is that men smoke far than women in China. A survey found 62% of men smoking as compared to just 3% of women there.
Of course, there are very good reasons not to believe data coming out of China. They’ve already revised their death toll 50%, and the new number is not likely correct either.
But there is more we can look at, such as global data. A useful website for this is globalhealth5050.org which aggregates the available data. That’s where the following charts are pulled from (as of 4/29/20)
Across most countries we can see more male deaths even those case percentage is often less than 50%.
And a higher ratio of men to women. Not everywhere, but close to it.
In addition to smoking, this website reports that globally, men are much more likely to suffer from heart and lung disease. With those, this virus is more likely to take you out. Here’s some comorbidities that men more likely suffer from.
Some of the most common comorbidities are obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. More women are obese then men in the USA, but men beat out women in the other two areas.
In the US we have 59% male deaths. And it is possible that is further skewed. “Data from around 1.5 million tests done in the U.S. show that the majority of people tested, 56%, were women,” reports NPR. “Of those women, 16% tested positive for the virus. In contrast, only 44% of the tests were done on men. And 23% of them tested positive.”
Of course, there are valid reasons not to trust the statistics from everywhere. But that’s a topic I cover elsewhere like in my new series here.
Ramp Up Your Estrogen?
I look at all that I think the underlying health issues is what is causing the difference. But some are leaping to another conclusion. It must be estrogen and progesterone that are protective…and if that’s the case let’s dose men with them!
There are currently trials on both the east and west coasts to see how this works.
I had to laugh at how that NY Times article ended. “Both hormones are believed to be safe, especially when used for short durations. Participants will be warned of possible side effects that may be a first for many men, like tenderness in the breast and hot flashes.”
Overall, men are less likely to look after their health. This is a very well established gender difference. This plays out in many different ways and I think that can explain all the differences we see in gender here.
There would have to be significantly more data behind the virus’ interaction with the hormones themselves before I would even give that smallest fret about it.
Should you be extra scared of this virus if you’re a man? No. Fear is not really going to help…unless it helps you to make steps to be healthier today of which there are many. And by that I mean healthier in general.
Should you try to alter your hormones because of this virus specifically? No. I don’t think it’s warranted at all.
Higher levels of testosterone are protective of many things in health generally, so even if these were negatively causative with SARS-CoV-2, which is highly debatable, I would still recommend you aim for ideal levels of testosterone and related hormones.
That means continue taking your herbs, though as covered in our new Pandemic Preparedness page, you might want to focus more on immunity and stress adaptation.
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