Middle-aged people with higher-than-average levels of the “stress” hormone cortisol may have fuzzier memories, a new study suggests.
The study, of more than 2,000 adults, found those with relatively high cortisol levels in their blood tended to perform worse on memory tests.
They also showed less tissue volume in certain areas of the brain, versus people with average cortisol levels.
“This is an interesting finding that clearly needs to be investigated further,” said Dr. Ezriel Kornel, an assistant clinical professor of neurosurgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. He wasn’t involved with the study.
But, Kornel emphasized, the research does not prove that cortisol — or, ultimately, daily stress — is the culprit.
For example, Kornel said, there could be some third factor that caused the higher cortisol levels and lower brain tissue volumes. It’s also possible that the brain changes came first, which then raised people’s cortisol levels, he said.
It’s not only daily psychological stress that boosts cortisol, Kornel pointed out. Certain health conditions and medications can do that, too.
Read the full article at HealthDay: