Some studies have shown that higher oestrogen levels could be associated with lower severity of infectious diseases. New research has found that woman who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopause have a 78% reduced risk of dying from Covid says a new study
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The medication is most often used to treat common menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and vaginal discomfort.
British researchers who tracked more than 5,400 women with Covid-19 during the first half of 2020 reported that those who received the supplement were 78% less likely to die within six months of catching the virus.
The new study led by the University of Southampton indicates that receiving hormone replacement therapy is associated with a reduction in mortality from the disease.
Higher risk of death from COVID-19
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Men and women differ when it comes to Covid-19 severity, with men suffering more severe infections and have higher rates of hospitalisation and mortality.
In fact, a recent review, using data from 38 countries, found mortality in men was 1.7 times higher than in women.
The reason for these sex differences remains uncertain, however, a few hypothesises from researchers have been brought forward.
While men and women have the same prevalence, men with coronavirus are more at risk for worse outcomes and death, independent of age, according to a study published in Frontiers in Public Health.
“While men and women had the same susceptibility, men were more prone to dying,” noted the research.
Limited recent observational data suggests that oestrogen may be one factor in this reduction of severity among women.
In the study, researchers used a retrospective cohort with medical records from the Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre primary care database.
They identified a group of 1,863,478 women from 465 general practices in England.
There were 5451 coronavirus cases within the cohort.
The research results suggest that oestrogen may well contribute a protective effect against Covid-19 severity.
It may also explain why fewer women compared to men have been hospitalised, admitted to intensive care, or died due to Covid-19 during the pandemic.
“Further research would be required before we could recommend oestrogen-containing medications as treatment for Covid,” said study author Christopher Wilcox.
He added: “Quite a number of studies have shown that higher oestrogen levels seem to be associated with lower severity of infectious diseases, including Covid-19.
“More recently, there have been studies suggesting that there may a protective effect from oestrogen-containing medications, including HRT and the combined oral contraceptive pill.
“This study supports the theory that oestrogen may offer some protection against severe Covid-19.
“We hope that this study can provide reassurance to patients and clinicians that there is no indication to stop hormone replacement therapy because of the pandemic.”
What is HRT?
HRT replaces hormones that are at a lower level as a woman approaches the menopause.
“The main benefit of HRT is that it can help relieve most of the menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness and reduced sex drive,” added the NHS.
The health body continued: “Many of these symptoms pass after a few years, but they can be unpleasant and taking HRT can offer relief for many women.
“It can also help prevent weakening of the bones (osteoporosis), which is more common after the menopause.”