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Research reveals a woman is happier and healthier if she enjoys a regular chat with her female friend because it boosts levels of progesterone, a hormone shown to reduce levels of anxiety and stress.
Scientists at the University of Michigan, who carried out the study, said progesterone played an important part in social bonding and also made women more willing to help other people in trouble, even if it meant risking their own lives.
“Many of the hormones involved in bonding and helping behaviour lead to reductions in stress and anxiety,” said Professor Stephanie Brown.
“Now we see that higher levels of progesterone may be part of the underlying basis of these effects.”
Scientists already knew higher levels of progesterone increased a woman’s desire to bond with others.
But the latest research, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, is the first to show gossiping and chatting can actually stimulate its production.
Researchers recruited 160 female students and took saliva samples to check their levels of progesterone. They were then paired up. Half were given questions to ask each other designed to bring them closer together.
These included, “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” and “What has been your greatest accomplishment?”
The other pairs were asked to proofread a research paper.
After 20 minutes of talking, the volunteers had their hormone levels checked again.
The students who got to know each other through “chatty” questions saw progesterone levels either stay the same or increase.
In the other group, progesterone actually declined.