Measuring long-term stress
Why did we use hair to measure cortisol levels? Previous studies looking at the link between cortisol and obesity have relied mainly on measurements of the hormone in blood, saliva or urine which may vary according to the time of day and other “situational factors”, such as diet or illness. Because these methods give a very short-term picture of a person’s stress levels, these studies were not able to evaluate the relationship between obesity and longer-term stress. What Fat Burner Pills For Women’S Weight Loss. The distinction between acute (short-term) and chronic (longer-term) stress is important because the former is thought to serve as a protective fight or flight response whereas the latter can have a damaging effect on the body.
Hair is a reliable way to measure long-term exposure to stress hormones. Catalin Petolea/Shutterstock.com
Over the last decade, a new method for measuring cortisol levels in hair has been developed, and has been shown to be a reliable way of assessing chronic stress exposure.
For our research, a lock of hair 2cm long was taken from each participant, cut as closely as possible to the person’s scalp. Natural Fat Burning Pills Women’S Health. Hair grows at an average rate of 1cm per month, so our samples represented approximately two months’ hair growth with associated accumulated levels of cortisol.
We measured people’s weight, height and waist circumference, and we used these measures to assess the relationship between levels of hair cortisol and adiposity (fatness).
A new target for treating obesity?
We cannot be sure from our research that stress is causing people to become obese, but if causation can be proved through further investigation, the link between chronic stress and obesity offers a potential target for interventions aimed at preventing and treating obesity. Easy Ways To Fat Loss Pills For Women. Tried and tested stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation and yoga are cheap, widely accessible options that could help people reduce their risk of developing obesity. It may also be possible to use drugs that reduce cortisol levels to treat obesity in more severe cases.