Estrogen hormone may protect women from severe COVID-19

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists from the University of Helsinki found an older woman’s estrogen levels may be linked to her chances of dying from COVID-19.

They found higher levels of the hormone are protective against severe infection.

The team suggests that it may be worth exploring supplemental hormone treatment to curb the severity of COVID-19 infection in women who have already gone through menopause.

The research is published in BMJ Open and was conducted by Malin Sund et al.

Women seem to have a lower risk of severe COVID-19 infection than men, even after accounting for potentially influential factors.

And this is also true of other serious recent viral infections, such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

It has been suggested, therefore, that estrogen may have a role in this gender discrepancy.

In the study, the team analyzed national data from the Swedish Public Health Agency and the National Board of Health and Welfare.

The data were from 14,685 women: 227 (2%) had been previously diagnosed with breast cancer and were on estrogen blocker drugs; and 2535 (17%) were taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to boost their estrogen levels.

The team found that compared with no estrogen treatment, the odds of dying from COVID-19 were twice as high among women on estrogen blockers, but 54% lower among women on HRT.

After accounting for other factors, the odds of dying from COVID-19 remained much lower (53%) for women on HRT.

Unsurprisingly, age was strongly linked to the risk of dying from COVID-19, with each extra year associated with 15% greater odds, while every additional coexisting condition increased the odds of death by 13%.

And those with the lowest household incomes were nearly 3 times as likely to die as those with the highest.

The team says this study shows a link between estrogen levels and COVID-19 death.

Consequently, drugs increasing estrogen levels may have a role in therapeutic efforts to alleviate COVID-19 severity in older women and could be studied in future research.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about why some people are symptom free, and previous COVID-19 infection, but not vaccination, improves antibodies.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies about drug that could save damaged lungs in COVID-19, and results showing vitamin D3 could help people fight COVID-19 and other infections.

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