Researchers believe the test may also have the potential to measure glucose or Covid-19 antibodies
Method is a cheap and effective way to measure chronic cortisol levels
A test that uses earwax to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol could “transform diagnostics and care for millions of people with depression or stress-related conditions”, scientists have said.
The researchers believe the test, which can be done at home without clinical supervision, may also have the potential to measure glucose or Covid-19 antibodies that accumulate in earwax.
They say the method is a cheap and effective way to measure chronic cortisol levels, when compared with the other methods such as using hair samples.
While blood, urine and saliva tests can be used to measure cortisol, Dr Andres Herane-Vives, of University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said these samples can only track short-term levels rather than chronic cortisol levels.
Dr Herane-Vives, who is lead researcher on the study published in the journal Heliyon, said: “Cortisol sampling is notoriously difficult, as levels of the hormone can fluctuate, so a sample might not be an accurate reflection of a person’s chronic cortisol levels.
“Moreover, sampling methods themselves can induce stress and influence the results.
“But cortisol levels in earwax appear to be more stable, and with our new device, it’s easy to take a sample and get it tested quickly, cheaply and effectively.”