|Cortisol is not your enemy. In fact, cortisol is one of the few hormones you really need to survive.|
Using three salivary samples from 342 children aged 6–12 years the scientists had tried to reconcile previous, inconsistent findings and found that the
"average cortisol levels in early morning, late morning and evening were significantly lower in overweight and obese children than in their normal weight counterparts."What's particularly interesting is that the early morning spike, we have identified as critical component of a healthy biorhythm, previously (see "All About Cortisol"), was reduced by -33% (see Figure 1):
|Figure 1: Morning (8:30 am), late morning (10:30 am) and evening (9:00pm or pre-bed, if earlier) salivary cortisol in 342 normal-weight, overweight and obese children (Kjölhede. 2014).|
children" - and I would like to add: Which of these comes first - being obese or having low morning cortisol and thus not being able to benefit from the "wake-up and get going" effects of cortisol.
This is not a statistical outlier: The results of the study at hand are not a statistically irrelevant outlier or something that would be observed in children, only. In 2013 Champaneri et al. a corresponding correlation between high early morning cortisol levels and lower body fatness and waist circumference, when they analyzed data from the 1,002 subjects of the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (Champaneri. 2013)That's also interesting, because previous studies by Toledo-Corral et al. have shown that a dampened cortisol awakening response is not just associated with obesity, it is also a predictive factor of higher carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) in overweight African American and Latino youth (Toledo-Corral. 2013), which in turn is a risk factor for myocardial infarction and stroke.
And Ursache et al. (just because it's funny: "Ursache" means "cause" in German ;-) report that dolescents with insulin resistance exhibited
- a blunted cortisol awakening response (CAR),
- smaller hippocampal volumes, and
- greater frontal lobe atrophy
Despite the fact that it is virtually impossible to tell what exactly the "ursache" for the irrefutable correlation between low morning cortisol levels and high body fatness, artery intima-media thickness, myocardial infarction and stroke is, the cumulative evidence clearly speaks against the use of cortisol-reducing drugs and supplements - at least if their effects are not extremely short-lived and will thus not mess with the natural up-and-down that's lost not just in obese, but also in chronically fatigued patients.
- Champaneri, Shivam, et al. "Diurnal salivary cortisol is associated with body mass index and waist circumference: the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis." Obesity 21.1 (2013): E56-E63.
- Toledo-Corral, Claudia M., et al. "Blunted nocturnal cortisol rise is associated with higher carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) in overweight African American and Latino youth." Psychoneuroendocrinology 38.9 (2013): 1658-1667.
- Tominaga, Yuji, et al. "Licorice Flavonoid Oil Effects Body Weight Loss by Reduction of Body Fat Mass in Overweight." Journal of health science 52.6 (2006): 672-683.
- Tominaga, Yuji, et al. "Licorice flavonoid oil reduces total body fat and visceral fat in overweight subjects: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study." Obesity research & clinical practice 3.3 (2009): 169-178.
- Ursache, Alexandra, et al. "Preliminary evidence for obesity and elevations in fasting insulin mediating associations between cortisol awakening response and hippocampal volumes and frontal atrophy." Psychoneuroendocrinology 37.8 (2012): 1270-1276.
- Zenk, John L., et al. "The effect of 7-Keto Naturalean™ on weight loss: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial." Current therapeutic research 63.4 (2002): 263-272.