Hormones give women a survival advantage: study
It seems that being female is an advantage when it comes to recovering from traumatic injuries, according to a study released Tuesday by a researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
“Female sex hormones appear to give women better resiliency to extreme injury, while male sex hormones seem to worsen their survival after severe trauma” says Adil H. Haider, assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins. The study shows that those hormones mean severely injured women have a 14 per cent higher chance of surviving than men with similar injuries.
“And if we can come up with ways to manipulate those hormones in men, for example by temporarily blocking sex hormones, we may be able to improve their survival.”
The data was collected from 48,000 patients brought into hundreds of emergency rooms across the U.S. between 2001 and 2005, all with severe injuries and suffering from low blood pressure related to blood loss. The ones with the highest estrogen levels had the best chance of survival, regardless of race or socio-economic status.
Haider says that after severe trauma, sex hormones serve specialized roles in regulating metabolic, cardiovascular and immune reactions.
Male readers, please take a deep breath.
The study was started after the remarkable recovery of a male gunshot victim who had multiple wounds in the chest and testicles, which were almost completely destroyed.
Doctors questioned the link between his total lack of testosterone and return to reasonably good health.
The long-suffering white mouse backed up the theory, after scientists castrated a group of them and subjected the (hopefully heavily sedated) mice to trauma to gather results.
So in the future, men who are being treated for trauma may be given androgen blocking drugs.
(If it comes to that no one needs to panic, or resist treatment. The drugs are the same used for prostate cancer for men and won't have permanent effects, notes Haider.)