Various theories have been put forward in an attempt to explain this results with some pointing out men are more likely to smoke. But prostate cancer experts have theorised the data might be caused by the sex hormone testosterone. Italian doctors have found patients given androgen deprivation therapy, which radically cuts testosterone levels, were four times less likely to die from coronavirus.
A protein, TMPRSS2, is driven up by testosterone and scientists think the virus could use this protein to unlock cells.
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Researchers at London’s Institute for Cancer Research are examining the link further, while the University of California, Los Angeles is looking at testosterone blocking therapy to help with coronavirus treatment.
Discussing the hypothesis that testosterone was making men more susceptible to coronavirus with the Mail on Sunday, Professor Nick James of the Institute for Cancer Research said it was, “biologically plausible.
“One of the proteins the virus appears to bind to in lungs is TMPRSS2. It’s a sort of lock and key thing: having bound to this protein, it provides the virus with a route into the cell.
“You would therefore predict that men on treatments for prostate cancer that reduce their testosterone levels should be protected relative to men who are not on such treatments – meaning most men.”
Professor James will examine data from around 8,000 prostate cancer patients in a trial he runs to see if those on treatment that reduces hormones has made them less likely to be hospitalised with coronavirus.
He warned, however, that being on testosterone cutting drugs as a preventive measure should be avoided due to their severe side effects.
Professor James warned: “Being on these drugs is the male equivalent of going through the menopause.
“You would almost certainly cause more harm than good.”
Testosterone plays a key role in the building of male reproductive tissues.
It can also increase muscle and bones mass as well as body hair.
The hormone has been linked to preventing osteoporosis.
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This is a disease which weakens human bone, typically there are no symptoms until the first bone break.
It becomes more common with age.
Data says it is more common in women then it is with men.
In 2010, 22 million women in the European Union had osteoporosis, compared to just 5.5 million men.
In the same year, in the US, there were around 8 million women with the condition and around 1-2 million men.
Typically, testosterone levels in men begin to gradually and slowly drop at around the age of 40 according to Harvard Health.
The coronavirus outbreak is closely related to the 2003 SARS outbreak.
In Hong Kong, 21.9 percent of males with the disease died.
But for females, this was 13.2 percent.
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