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A. The Link between Stress & Abdominal Fat in Lean Women

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new study has found that lean women with chronic stress are more likely to have an excess of abdominal fat. Elissa Epel, a University of California, San Francisco researcher who led the study, says stress produces the hormone cortisol, which is linked to abdominal fat accumulation.

Epel: This stress response is not harmful in itself and cortisol in fact protects us from part of the stress response. It's very healthy and important. The problem is when stress becomes chronic, the cortisol itself becomes harmful to our health and has negative direct effects and one of these direct effects it can have is increasing the abdominal fat and abdominal fat itself plays a role in many types of disease.

Narrator: Aside from serving as a warning sign, Epel says this knowledge is a topic the diet industry should pay more attention to.

Epel: Because hormones have a lot to do with whether fat's going to stay inside the cells or be mobilized and be able to be burned off so that you can lose weight.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.