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MEDICAL LETTER: John R. Lee M.D. Volume III (December 2000)

As women near middle age, may acquire a “tummy” that stays put regardless of diet and exercise. Thanks to some new research, the possible  cause of this unwanted bulge may encourage women to reduce their stress levels.

According to Elissa S. Epel and colleagues at Yale, stress can increase abdominal fat, even in premenopausal women who are otherwise lean.  The researchers found that such women were found to have higher stress-related cortisol levels.  This correlates with the central (abdominal) fat deposition that is common in Cushing’s disease, a disease of elevated serum cortisol.

The results observed by the yale researchers should not be surprising. Short-term response to stress involves adrenaline production. Long-term stress increases cortisol, which further inhibits progesterone receptors. Thus, these two mechanisms result in estrogen dominance as well as higher cortisol levels with the net effect of excess central fat deposition regardless of diet and exercise.

For stressed-out premenopausal women with increased abdominal fat, stress reduction and stress management techniques are certainly indicated, along with progesterone supplementation if estrogen dominance is evident.

 

Reference:

John R. Lee M.D. – Medical Letter, Volume III, January 2000 – December 2000)

Epel ES, et al, “Stress may cause excess abdominal fat in otherwise slender women,” Psycho-somatic Medicine, September/October 2000.

Sosa ZY, Casias M, Rastrilla AM, Aguado L, “Adrenergic influences on coeliac ganglion affect the release of progesterone from cycling ovaries: characterization of an invitro system,” Endocrinology 2000; 166(2): 307-318.

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