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Study shows oxytocin may boost happiness among women

Scientists are discovering that oxytocin is more than just the "cuddle hormone." Findings presented yesterday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego suggest that women with higher levels of oxytocin may be happier.

NPR Shots reports:

In this study, women filled out surveys about their satisfaction with life before they received the gift. And comparing the survey results with oxytocin changes revealed a clear pattern.

"Women who release more oxytocin are happier," [Paul Zak, a researcher at Claremont Graduate University] told the audience at the neuroscience meeting. "They like being around other people more, they have more sex per month, and they have more resilience to adverse events."

The reason for these differences probably has to do with oxytocin's ability to encourage people to form relationships, trust other people, and empathize, he says.

But more research is need to determine if oxytocin makes women happy, or if happy women just have more oxytocin. Without definitive research, Sue Carter, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago advises against purchasing the hormone on the Internet to use for personal consumption. Carter tells WebMD:

We have no idea what the long-term consequences are. Using oxytocin is not like using a typical drug. It's a biological stimulation model, not a pharmaceutical model.

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