Lowest cortisol levels found in women with overweight, mild obesity

Women with overweight and class I obesity appear to have the lowest cortisol levels, while more significant obesity appears to be associated with higher cortisol levels, according to recent findings.

In the cross-sectional study, Karen K. Miller, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues evaluated 60 premenopausal women aged 18 to 45 years: 28 with overweight or obesity, 18 with anorexia nervosa and 21 healthy controls at normal weight. Overweight was defined as BMI 25 to 29.9 kg/m2, and obesity was classified as class I (30-34.9 kg/m2) and class II (35-39 kg/m2).

Anorexia nervosa was classified based on DSM-IV criteria, which includes extreme fear of weight gain, body image dysmorphia, weight that is 85% of ideal body weight and cessation of menstruation for 3 consecutive months. Participants were asked to collect 24-hour urine samples, in addition to 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. salivary samples within 1 week of an inpatient hospital visit. For each sample, researchers assessed creatinine clearance, and urinary free cortisol/creatinine clearance was calculated for each specimen to account for the decreased creatinine and filtered cortisol linked to anorexia nervosa.

During the inpatient visit, participants underwent placement of an IV catheter and fasting blood was sampled every 20 minutes from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Fasting cortisol and cortisol binding globulin concentrations were measured at 8 a.m. Participants were asked to take 5 g of oral dexamethasone every 6 hours for 48 hours to decrease endogenous disparities in cortisol levels.

The researchers found that with the exception of dexamethasone-suppression-CRH testing, all cortisol measures exhibited a U-shaped association with BMI, most notably urinary free cortisol/creatinine clearance (P = .0004) and mean overnight serum cortisol (P < .0001).

The lowest cortisol levels were seen in the overweight-class I obesity range, and these were also associated with visceral fat tissue and total fat mass. Participants with anorexia nervosa had higher mean cortisol levels than participants with overweight or obesity. Attenuated inverse relationships were seen between lean mass and some measures of cortisol, and most measures of cortisol were inversely related to posterior-anterior spine and total hip bone mineral density.

According to the researchers, these findings have not determined the precise nature of the relationship between cortisolemia, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activation and adiposity.

“The [hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal] axis activation associated with obesity and excess adiposity raises the question of whether hypercortisolemia contributes to increased adiposity in the setting of caloric excess, whether increased adiposity drives [hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal] activation, or whether the relationship between hypercortisolemia and adiposity is bidirectional,” the researchers wrote. – by Jennifer Byrne

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.

From http://www.healio.com/endocrinology/obesity/news/online/%7B73cac1c4-af30-4f24-89e3-86f50d05aaa2%7D/lowest-cortisol-levels-found-in-women-with-overweight-mild-obesity

Myth: “All Cushing’s patients have the exact same symptoms

Myth: “All Cushing’s patients have the exact same symptoms and the level of illness is the same for everyone. If you do not have ALL of the classic symptoms of Cushing’s, then you must NOT have Cushing’s Syndrome/Disease!”

myth-busted

Fact: Everyone does NOT have the exact same symptoms. Not all Cushing’s patients are exactly the same. This is one mistake that non experts tend to make in terms of categorizing patients by whether they meet the exact same classic symptoms or not. Experts have come to learn that each patient should be treated individually. Though there are symptoms that are more prominent in the Cushing’s population, not every patient has to meet every single symptom in order to meet criteria for Cushing’s.

For instance, not all Cushing’s patients become overweight. Everyone does not gain the same amount of weight. There are various theories as to why. One issue is that different patients are diagnosed at different stages of the illness. We know that patients tend not to be diagnosed at the onset of the illness because of doctors’ misconception that Cushing’s patients must be extremely obese to have the disease. So, patients who have not gained as much weight may not be listened to until after the weight has gotten out of control. However, there ARE patients who are diagnosed early enough where there has not been a tremendous amount of weight gain.

I (Karen Ternier Thames), for one, started trying to get help after gaining my first 30 pounds because I KNEW that something was wrong with my body. Had I received an appropriate diagnosis, I probably would not have gained the 150 pounds I ended up gaining in 5 years.

Regardless of the reason, it is a myth that all Cushing’s patients gain the same amount of weight. The following are other additional reasons that an endocrinologist gave me for supposedly not meeting the criteria for Cushing’s when I was misdiagnosed: “1. Your stretch marks are not purple enough”, 2. “Your buffalo hump is not large enough”, 3. “You are not THAT fat!”, 4. “Cushing’s patients do NOT have children”, and 5. ” your face does not look like a classic moon face”. These are some of the reasons why, 2 years earlier, this same doctor dismissed apparently high cortisol levels, and didn’t even tell me, leading to several more years of suffering!

So, not all Cushing’s patients are obese, not all Cushing’s patients gain the same weight at the same rate, not all Cushing’s patients have the same size buffalo hump or the same round moon face. There are variations in these symptoms. IF you are experiencing extreme changes in your body regardless of diet and exercise and its not influenced by external factors, then it is time to speak up!

It is important to raise concern with your doctor if you do have ANY Cushing’s symptoms. Please do not be inhibited if you do not show every single symptom!

What Causes Overweight and Obesity?

Health Conditions

Some hormone problems may cause overweight and obesity, such as underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Underactive thyroid is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone. Lack of thyroid hormone will slow down your metabolism and cause weight gain. You’ll also feel tired and weak.

Cushing’s syndrome is a condition in which the body’s adrenal glands make too much of the hormone cortisol. Cushing’s syndrome also can develop if a person takes high doses of certain medicines, such as prednisone, for long periods.

People who have Cushing’s syndrome gain weight, have upper-body obesity, a rounded face, fat around the neck, and thin arms and legs.

PCOS is a condition that affects about 5–10 percent of women of childbearing age. Women who have PCOS often are obese, have excess hair growth, and have reproductive problems and other health issues. These problems are caused by high levels of hormones called androgens.

Read the entire article at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/causes

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