Expert Suggests Blocking Testosterone May Help Men Survive COVID-19

Researchers have found a potential way to help men increase their chances of surviving COVID-19. Men may get another layer of defense by blocking testosterone but health experts raised concerns that it may not be a good option for everyone.

The new study, published in the journal Annals of Oncology, shows the positive effects of androgen deprivation therapies (ADT). This treatment is provided to men with prostate cancer to help prevent testosterone production.

Researchers found that the men who received ADT had lower risk of catching COVID-19 compared to those with prostate cancer but did not take the therapy, IFLScience reported

Cancer makes men 1.8 times more likely to get infected with the novel coronavirus. However, suppressing testosterone through ADT reversed the effects of the disease and even provided patients a better protection against the virus. 

During the study, the men with prostate cancer but not on ADT had a 0.31 percent infection rate. However, more than 5,000 men with the same disease but took the therapies had significantly lower coronavirus risk.

“We... have found that those being treated with ADT for prostate cancer are protected, even though all patients with cancer have a greater risk of COVID-19 infection than non-cancer patients,” Andrea Alimonti, a professor at the Università della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland, said in a statement.

All men on ADT during the study also survived COVID-19. But the disease killed a sixth of the cancer patients who did not receive the therapies to block their testosterone.

Alimonti said that men with severe COVID-19 symptoms and aggressive prostate cancer may consider taking ADT to increase their survival. But the researcher said they should continue blocking their testosterone as long as the risk of contracting the coronavirus remains high. 

Alimonti noted testosterone levels would return to normal after the patient stops taking ADT. However, in some cases it may be difficult to get to normal levels particularly on ADT that involves chemical castration. 

Coronavirus In Semen

Another recent study, published in JAMA Network Open, shows that the novel coronavirus could reach the semen. The finding has sparked concerns that men could transmit COVID-19 through sex. 

Researchers in China found that semen samples from young patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms tested positive for the virus. However, experts noted more studies are required to confirm that the disease can be sexually transmitted.

“We don't know what the implications of the latest findings are yet. The presence of viral RNA in the patients' semen does not necessarily indicate the presence of infectious virus,” experts at University of Kent in England said in an article published on the Conversation. “So it will be critical to show whether infectious virus can also be isolated from the semen of SARS-CoV-2 patients and survivors.” 

Men and COVID-19 A new study, in the journal Annals of Oncology, shows that men who receive androgen deprivation therapies (ADT) to prevent testosterone production have higher chances of avoiding and surviving COVID-19. Pixabay