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Increases in Stress Hormone Levels in a UK Population During in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Prospective Cohort Study 2022 Jia,Chalder et al

Discussion in 'Other psychosomatic news and research' started by Sly Saint, Dec 3, 2022.

  1. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)


    Hair cortisone significantly increased by 23% in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

    Stress at the start of the pandemic associated with greater increases in cortisol

    Increased cortisone more likely in people with previous mental health difficulties

    Research suggests that psychological factors may influence vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2 infection, although the mechanisms are unclear.

    We examined whether the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis may be a possible mechanism, by measuring the relationship between indices of psychological distress and cortisone in hair (hairE) in a UK cohort during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Participants (N=827) provided two 3 cm hair samples over a 6-month period between April-September 2020. Samples reflected hairE in the 3 months prior to the collection date.

    HairE in the first samples (T1: commenced April 2020) did not differ significantly from pre-pandemic population norms. However, hairE in the second samples (T2: commenced July 2020) were significantly higher than T1 and pre-pandemic population norms, with a 23% increase between T1 and T2. Linear regressions, controlling for age and gender, demonstrated that at both timepoints, hairE levels were greatest in people with a history of mental health difficulties. In addition, stress reported at T1 predicted greater hairE at T2 and a greater change in hairE between T1 and T2.

    These findings demonstrate that during the COVID-19 pandemic hairE was substantially elevated across a large community cohort, with greatest levels in those with a history of mental health difficulties and greatest changes in those reporting greatest levels of stress early in the pandemic. Further research is required with verified SARS-CoV-2 outcomes to determine whether the HPA axis is among the mechanisms by which a history of mental health difficulties and stress influence SARS-CoV-2 outcomes.

    RedFox and Peter Trewhitt like this.
  2. Shadrach Loom

    Shadrach Loom Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    London, UK
    Cum hoc ergo propter hoc again.
  3. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    It's pretty ridiculous to spend this much money to get this little data that really tell us nothing. This kind of associative data could go in any direction or be explained by a number of factors. No wonder research is so expensive when it's basically 90% waste as a baseline. The entire process has to change, we are not getting our money's worth for it.

    Even political science is usually more serious than this. Trying to explain large events using small bits of data is fraught with confounding factors and a severe lack of relevant information.

    Research has to be integrated directly in the healthcare systems, moving away from statistics and into big data and quality control using systematic data, not small or arbitrary samplings. We need real comprehensive data, the technology has existed for this for many years already.
  4. bobbler

    bobbler Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    OK given I wondered whether cortisone was a valid measure at all (rather than cortisol which I'd heard of being used) I found the following paper:

    Noting that the abbreviation HCNC is what they've used for cortisone (and HCC for cortisol):

    Not completely sure why, given their first 4 points - which relate to actual findings - have resulted in point 5 suggesting cortisone should be included, when there is potential all it tells them is who is washing their hair the most.

    Anyway putting this aside it is my usual bugbear with BPS usage/pushing of cortisol and cortisone for misleading conclusion reasons:

    Cortisol is a sign of stress on the body ie physical stress such as lifting things, running for a bus, increased workload to tighter deadlines causing working through tiredness on less food and so on.

    These people need to be called out for trying to represent what, for something like ME would be exertion and relates to activity (and would for any other person) and pretending inaccurately they have any proof 'this can be mediated'. Well it could if it was a case of providing a hoist if it were caused by lifting things, or a help if it were caused by overwork and picking up cleaning duties and other physical tasks on top of normal working day - but there is not even any attempt to work out what is explained by other things that might raise it before assertions about psychological stress are inferred.

    And no some bonkers therapy might brainwash someone into thinking the weight they are lifting 'feels lighter' but it doesn't trick the body - certainly not in the form of cortisol being reduced - because that would be stupid and result in people collapsing and not being able to lift said weight given the veyr point of it rising is to provide that additional upraising of key things like blood pressure, breathing etc so someone can lift something

    To go as far as then not just saying the stress is pyschological but is 'distress' is preposterous without any working, and really just unkind and inappropriate and in the context of who these people are potentially offensive/slanderous (pick the rigt word) if you think of the various tropes e.g. women ensured of calm down dear etc. It is bad for someone's mental health ie psychologically harmful for people to throw these things around inaccurately and we need to start calling out people who do this and claim their work cannot be harmful in its assertions.

    So you'd reasonably expect someone would be aware and empathetic before inadvertently twisting something like this and make very sure they knew what they were talking about when discussing what any findings might actually really show.
    Sean, alktipping, Arnie Pye and 2 others like this.
  5. Arnie Pye

    Arnie Pye Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I've never had any faith in hair testing of anything. The number of possible variables that will affect results must be huge.

    1) Patients might wash their hair every day, twice a week, once a month or whatever, and change the results of the research.

    2) The type of shampoo used will probably have affects on results.

    3) Does the patient use conditioner? Gel? Hairspray? Hair dye? Any other hair product?

    4) Does the patient drive a car to work 5 days a week with the windows closed, or walk along a busy road, heavy with traffic and exhaust fumes?

    5) What effects does diet have? Are patients carnivores or omnivores or vegetarians or vegans?
    Wonko, alktipping, lycaena and 3 others like this.
  6. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Just as anxiety can almost always replaced be with "I don't like this", stress can be substituted to mean exertion in 90% of cases where it's used. Or maybe unavoidable exertion, if we're to make "stress" meaning something more.

    The inability to pay attention to details is what makes it impossible to reconcile that PEM is about exertion, and is instead made about "stress", even though it perfectly substitutes in almost all cases.

    It's not possible to do anything with such weak foundations, when the meaning of the core concepts is so vague and generic. Imagine trying to build a building out of material. What material? Whatevs. Rotted wood? Old pulpy garbage? It's all good, build it and never look back.

    What an incredible mess. Seriously starting to think that we're going to need to build a second medical profession just to make up for all the mess that the current one is doing. It's the most dysfunctional profession right now and probably by a few orders of magnitude.
    bobbler and Peter Trewhitt like this.
  7. bobbler

    bobbler Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I think we are going to need a 'second medical profession', or something that is 'new' (but just a branch-off of those who have scientific focus and outlook) as an area for ME/CFS to make headway that will indeed probably transform so many other conditions too ie become the new norm. Easier than trying to change the 'floated to the top of the old' is just branching off the good stuff.
    rvallee and Peter Trewhitt like this.

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