Growth Hormone Deficiency, the Immune System and COVID-19

Written by Dr. Jonathan Peterson, Updated on September 7th, 2020

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It’s been noted already in the scientific literature that hormonal imbalance is a contributing factor to increasing one’s risk for contracting and potentially dying from the Coronavirus or COVID-19.

Specifically, low testosterone in men has been found to be a major risk factor. Once one hormone is out of balance in the human body, either being produced too much or too little, other hormones are easily affected as well.

The endocrine system is quite complex and susceptible to small changes. Now, another hormone has been found to be linked to increased death rates among COVID-19 patients, specifically elderly males.

Brief Background on COVID-19

Since December of 2019, the Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been spreading rapidly around our world, spiraling into a pandemic. COVID is a novel virus that we have not seen before and causes severe respiratory issues once a serious infection has set in, also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2).

Researchers in Germany have noticed that the male population is more susceptible to COVID and more likely to die from the disease.

It has also been realized that one of the risk factors for the virus is obesity. Patients who have a lot of abdominal, visceral fat are the ones who end up in intensive care the most.

So, obesity and low testosterone are well-known risk factors for men in contracting the Coronavirus – do you know what else has been linked to the disease? Growth hormone deficiency (GHD).

Growth Hormone Deficiency – A Missing Link

Anyone with an impaired immune system is susceptible to illness and COVID-19 and the growth hormone-IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor-1) hormonal axis is intricately linked with the immune system.

Growth hormone (GH) is not just essential to growing children – it is necessary for adults for tissue maintenance and growth – essentially to keep our cells up and running, including the immune system. Both growth hormone and IGF-1 can stimulate the production of B and T cells. Both of these are white blood cells that fight off infection.

As you can see, growth hormone is an essential hormone for us. It makes sense that since women make more growth hormone than men, on average, they are less susceptible to COVID. Not only that, but obesity and growth hormone deficiency are also linked together.

If one is obese, that person has incredibly unhealthy eating habits which typically leads to hormone imbalance, in and of itself. Research has shown that obese patients do not secrete as much GH as non-obese patients do – production of growth hormone is stunted.

Obesity is one major reason for the commonality of growth hormone deficiency in the US population. Unfortunately, this has not been fully realized by most doctors, and growth hormone has a stigma surrounding it.

Besides obesity, GHD is also associated with a debilitated metabolic profile, decreased bone density, cardiovascular issues, and mortality. Obesity is also associated with low testosterone!

Overall Health and Hormone Balance

While this all might sound very complex and confusing, it all comes down to this: overall good health and the maintenance of hormonal balance are key to combating the Coronavirus or any other infectious disease.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising keeps visceral fat and the threat of obesity away. Maintaining a healthy weight, with lean muscle mass, increases testosterone production in both men and women.

Ensuring that your hormones are balanced keeps growth hormone deficiency from developing as you age and keeps your immune system functioning properly.

It is essential for you to follow this advice if you are serious about keeping yourself and your family protected against COVID. Everyone knows how to eat healthily and exercise, but maintaining hormone balance is a bit trickier.

That is what we are here for. We are a team of knowledgeable and experienced endocrinologists who have worked with many GHD and low-T patients over the years. All it takes is a simple blood test to see if your testosterone or growth hormone levels are in their healthy ranges – ranges that will keep your immune system functioning optimally.

Do not wait until it’s too late! Eat your veggies, go for a run, and get your hormone levels checked ASAP! Call us today!

References

GH-IGF1 axis and COVID-19

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