Bald men may be at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 coronavirus symptoms, according to researcher whose study found 79 percent of men in his sample who were hospitalized with coronavirus were bald.
The pre-print version of a paper by Carlos Wambier, a researcher at Brown University, links androgens or male hormones as a gateway for coronavirus to enter human cells.
“The main insight is that excess activation of androgens – essentially, hormones that regulate what we think of as male characteristics – is intrinsically linked to the vulnerability of patients to SARS-CoV-2,” Wambier said in a Q&A with futurity, a website focusing on research news from leading universities.
“This is because the first step to the virus’s entry into a cell is a ‘bite’ from a protease enzyme that is produced only by action of androgen hormones. The infection by SARS-CoV-2 seems to be mediated by androgens,” Wambier, an Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Brown, added.
Wambier conducted two studies in Spain where he found a large percentage of bald men being hospitalized with the coronavirus.
In the first study, Wambier looked at 41 coronavirus patients and found that 71 percent of them had male pattern baldness. In the second study, the researcher looked at 175 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 122 of whom were male, out of which 79 percent were found to have a frequency of Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) - a common form of hair loss.
The paper, which has been picked up by several media outlets, is currently in a pre-print version due to be published by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Wambier admitted, however, that his small sample size and lack of a control group limited his study.
Previous studies looking into the COVID-19 coronavirus confirmed that men have a higher fatality rate than women.
In the conclusion of his study’s letter, Wambier suggested scientists name the risk factor as the “Gabrin sign” after Dr. Frank Gabrin, the first US doctor to die of coronavirus in the United States who was also bald.