Did California hospital study REALLY claim injecting men with female hormones could treat Covid-19?
Female hormone progesterone dampens an immune response called 'cytokine storm', which often damages lungs and other organs in Covid-19 patients
Female sex hormone progesterone not only plays a central role in pregnancy but also appears to help treat Covid-19 in men - as claimed by a newly released study. The medical trial conducted and compiled by pulmonologist Dr. Sara Ghandehari from Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles showed that men affected by Covid-19 responded positively to the injection of female hormones.
The study was conducted on 40 male Covid-19 patients at the hospital after the doctors found that women hospitalized with severe Covid-19 are generally recovering better than men. This led to the idea of injecting the patients with limited dosages of progesterone for five days. “While our findings are encouraging for the potential of using progesterone to treat men with Covid-19, our study had significant limitations,” Dr. Ghandehari told.
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How was the study conducted?
"As an ICU doctor, I was struck by the gender disparity among Covid-19 patients who were very sick, remained in the hospital, and needed ventilators,” revealed the lead doctor. She and her team got the idea for the experimental trial from past researches which showed that premenopausal women with higher progesterone levels experienced less severe Covid-19 symptoms than those with lower progesterone levels.
The study was conducted in a controlled trial group in an unblinded manner, meaning that the patients, doctors, and research team members were all aware of the experimental treatment. The 40 patients to undergo the treatment were chosen among White, Hispanic, and obese individuals who had other co-morbidities that tended to increase the risk of worse outcomes.
While the non-experimental patients underwent the standard medical treatment and care for Covid-19, each patient in the trial group was additionally administered 100-milligram injections of progesterone twice daily for five days. The patients were assessed regularly by the medical team for 15 days or up to the day of discharge from the hospital.
Dr. Ghandehari hypothesized that the gender differences in disease outcomes might have resulted from certain properties of progesterone - anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to dampen an often-fatal immune response called 'cytokine storm' that tends to affect lungs and other organs in Covid-19 patients.
"The pilot clinical trial, involving 40 men, is believed to be the first published study to use progesterone to treat male Covid-19 patients whose lung functions have been compromised by the coronavirus. While the findings are promising, larger clinical trials are needed to establish the potential of this experimental therapy," read an excerpt from the clinical study published on the hospital website.