Ear wax ‘reveals stress levels’



Ear wax can reveal stress levels, and in the future could be used for diagnostic tests of mental health, say British and Chilean researchers. The London-based UCL reports that they studied 37 people and showed that the stress hormone cortisol could be measured reliably in ear wax samples. According to the BBC and the Guardian, the finding paves the way for new ways to diagnose stress in general, but also other mental disorders such as depression, even with cheap tests that will be done at home. The researchers’ goal is to find an objective biological indicator of mental illness. To date, diagnoses are largely subjective. So far, cortisol has been detected in blood, urine and saliva, but these samples only record short-term stress levels. The detection of the hormone in the secretions of the ear covers a greater depth of time. Dr. Herane-Vives had previously tried to measure cortisol in the hair follicles, but these must be at least three centimeters long, which limits the usefulness of such a test , as many people have shorter hair (and of course there are bald ones). “Assessing cortisol is a difficult task, as hormone levels can fluctuate, so a sample may not accurately reflect chronic stress levels. In addition, the sampling methods themselves can be stressful and thus affect the results. “But the levels of cortisol in the ear wax seem to be more stable and, with our new device, it is easy to sample and test it quickly, cheaply and efficiently,” said the lead scientist. The control device developed by the scientists looks like swab, but has a “brake” that prevents it from penetrating too deep into the ear so as not to injure it. At the end there is organic material with a solution, which can take a sample from the “candle”. Researchers do not rule out that in the future they could expand their method to measure in the ear wax and other useful things for a person’s health, such as glucose (sugar) levels or antibodies against various viruses, such as the new coronavirus. in the



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