According to medical researchers, the primary female sex hormone called estrogen puts women at greater risk of deadly allergic reactions. A study warns that in laboratory tests, women had worsened allergic reactions because of hormones.
Researchers discovered that for people suffering from anaphylaxis, which is an allergic reaction caused by insect stings, medication, and food, enzymes are released by immune cells which lead to blood vessels to widen and tissues to swell. Also discovered was that a type of estrogen known as estradiol, actually enhances activity and levels of this enzyme, putting women at serious risk.
When a reaction occurs, women will begin to develop a rash, the skin becomes flushed, and breathing starts to become labored. In the most severe cases, a woman can go into shock or have a full-blown heart attack.
As stated by the researchers of this study, this could explain there are differences between sexes specific to allergies. Studies conducted in the past show that women have anaphylaxis more often than men but until this new study, the reason remained a mystery.
The new study was performed by scientists with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases with findings published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. In laboratory testing, scientists found that not only did female mice have more serious anaphylactic reactions compared to men but that they also lasted much longer.
Scientists agree that the estrogen hormone is what makes the endothelial nitric oxide synthase enzyme cause anaphylaxis (eNOS) symptoms to be stronger. However, when activity of this enzyme was blocked, allergic reactions between men and women vanished.
Researchers also discovered that giving women treatments to block estrogen had a positive result. In female mice that were given the blocking treatments, level of allergic reactions dropped lower than levels typically found in men.
Obviously, there is a clear connection between the female hormone estrogen and the enzyme with serious anaphylactic reaction but researchers agree it is imperative to see if the same results occur in humans.