I had a sinking feeling when I saw that there were articles circulating in the mainstream press linking Covid-19 to low testosterone.
Articles on testosterone in the mainstream media are often wildly misinformed, they are always keen to demonize testosterone and anybody who would try to increase it.
However, to their credit the usual peddlers of clickbait titles and exaggeration were remarkably restrained;
So, how much credence should we give this research? Is it credible?
Motives & Theory
The study was conducted by researchers at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany and financed by the German Federal Ministry of Health. A good start.
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed. It is very small scale, 45 patients in the study of which 35 were men.
That’s not great, but I am very glad I didn’t dismiss this – it is potentially very interesting.
Their motive was to try and establish why more men are dying from Covid-19 than women.
Their theory was that low androgen levels in males caused a failure of the immune system and precipitated a cytokine storm. Which is a hyper-inflammatory response of the immune system that has been observed in a significant number of Covid-19 deaths.
In typical German fashion the study looks to have been extremely well organised and efficient. You can read the full text here;
Testosterone samples used were based on serum and plasma they drew. Demographic and clinical variables were established from the hospital’s patient management system.
They recorded the treatment patients received, and whether patients needed to be mechanically ventilated. They followed how patients responded to their course of treatment and logged recovery rates.
24 cytokines and chemokines were measured.
They also noted the comorbidities of the patients. This was not an otherwise healthy group of people, not by a long chalk. Serious pre-existing health conditions included the following;
As they point out in their text, a recent study conducted in New York City (one of the worst hit in the world) on 5,700 hospitalized patients revealed that hypertension, obesity and diabetes were the most common comorbidities for Covid-19.
We’ve written before about low test being related to some cancers, or treatment of others, and that low test contributes to cardiovascular health and diabetes.
In addition to other factors such as race and gender, up until now the increased morbidity rates due to Covid-19 have been attributed to obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Is the real cause of the morbidity the low testosterone that accompanies those pre-existing conditions rather than the conditions themselves?
It looks like the research team believe that it is. They don’t make any massive leaps or bold statements based on their findings, but they do conclude;
We here show that critically ill male COVID-19 patients suffer from severe testosterone and dihydrotestosterone deficiencies. Both androgens are required to mount antiviral immune responses to combat infection in males.
I think this is an important study that needs to be followed up at scale.
I think you will find it will be. There are billions of dollars being pumped into research into Covid-19, and we have no global shortage of patients to run tests on.
We’ll report back on any other studies that are run on the back of this one.