Older women on HRT half as likely to die from Covid, research suggests

Woman on hormone replacement therapy – better known as HRT – are less likely to die from Covid, according to a new study.

The research found a link between those taking the hormone replacement and less severe disease when infected with the virus.

Carried out by Swedish scientists and published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the study monitored 2,500 women in their 60s on HRT who tested positive for coronavirus during the initial wave of the pandemic, between February and September 2020.

Participants were admitted to hospital during this time with most being menopausal.

Throughout the pandemic, women have consistently had a lower death rate than men and high levels of oestrogen – the female hormone – may have been playing a vital role.

The study found the those taking HRT were less likely to die of Covid.

The participants were compared to 12,000 women of the same age who were not taking HRT throughout the study, as well as 200 female cancer survivors who were taking oestrogen blockers and therefore had lower levels of the hormone.

It was found that the women taking HRT were half as likely to die from Covid, while those on oestrogen-blockers were shown to face double the risk.

Of the women who were on oestrogen-boosting HRT, a total of 54 (2.1 per cent) died from the virus.

But among those receiving no treatment, 546 (4.6 per cent) died from the infection.

And of the women taking oestrogen-blockers 23 (10 per cent) died after testing positive.

Experts say that the results suggest oestrogen boosts immunity and helps the body to fight off coronavirus.

Professor Malin Sund at Umeå University in Sweden said: “This study shows an association between oestrogen levels and Covid death.

“Consequently, drugs increasing oestrogen levels may have a role in therapeutic efforts to alleviate Covid severity in postmenopausal women and could be studied in randomised control trials.”

However, other scientists have warned that the study does not consider a host of other variables including lifestyle, diet and weight.

Men also produced oestrogen, but women have a much higher level of the hormone.

This is because the hormone is part of a women’s menstrual cycle.

However, when a woman reaches menopause levels begin to drop which then leads to symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats.

Taking HRT often helps with symptoms as it works by topping up estrogen levels.

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