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Flatter Diurnal Cortisol Slopes Linked to Poorer Health Outcomes

MONDAY, Aug. 7, 2017 -- Flatter diurnal cortisol slopes correlate with poorer health in 10 of 12 subtypes of emotional and physical health outcomes examined, according to a review published in the September issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology.

Emma K. Adam, Ph.D., from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to examine correlations between diurnal cortisol slopes and physical and mental health outcomes. The authors analyzed 179 associations from 80 studies.

The researchers found that across all studies there was a significant association between flatter diurnal cortisol slopes and poorer health (average effect size, r = 0.147). In 10 out of 12 subtypes of emotional and physical health outcomes examined, flatter diurnal cortisol slopes correlated with poorer health; the effect size was largest for immune/inflammation outcomes.

"We argue that flatter diurnal cortisol slopes may both reflect and contribute to stress-related dysregulation of central and peripheral circadian mechanisms, with corresponding downstream effects on multiple aspects of biology, behavior, and health," the authors write.

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Posted: August 2017