Living lifestyles are prominent in today's world, more than ever before. While stress is commonly known to contribute to health…
Living lifestyles are prominent in today’s world, more than ever before. While stress is commonly known to contribute to health problems from high blood pressure to diabetes, it can also lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage.
UT Health San Antonio reported that a study has found how higher levels of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress, have an adverse effect on adults over 40 when taking a memory test or doing cognitive tasks.
Sudha Sesadri, MD, neurology professor at UT Health, San Antonio, the senior researcher of the study, said that while we already know that stressed animals may suffer from cognitive decline, higher levels of cortisol in humans, especially in the morning, are linked to poorer brain structure and cognition.
As one of the most important stress hormones of the human body, cortisol is best known for “battle or flight” instinct, CNN points out. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing more of this hormone and it eliminates various body functions that can prevent survival, which sometimes makes it possible for people to perform almost unbelievable performances.
Cortisol levels usually fall when the emergency is over and it causes the functions it had closed in the body to start working again, which means that you return to normal. If you do not let your stress levels fall, the body means continuing high levels of cortisol, which does not allow normal functions to return.
This would lead to symptoms like anxiety, depression, headache and sleep disorders, as the brain lacks nutrients that it needs to function optimally.
“The brain is a very hungry body. It requires an excessive amount of nutrients and oxygen to keep it healthy and functioning properly. So, when the body needs these resources to handle stress, it’s less to walk around the brain,” Keith Fargo, leading scientific programs and looking out for the Alzheimer’s Association, was quoted according to CNN.
Furthermore, the study also found that higher cortisol levels in the blood are also associated with a decreased brain volume.
High levels of cortisol were found to be adapted to more damage to corona radiata (parts of the brain responsible for moving information) and corpus Callosum (area between the two hemispheres of the brain).
Also read: Six ways to manage stress in the office and be productive
The study also found that the brains of people with higher cortisol levels proved to have developed less cerebrum ̵
1; responsible for thoughts, feelings, speech and muscle function. Persons with high levels of cortisol had 88.5 percent of the overall brain volume in the brain, compared to 88.7 percent in subjects with normal cortisol levels.
It was also noted in the article published by CNN that the effects of high cortisol on brain volume seemed to affect only women.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, who heads Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine, said that estrogen can increase cortisol.
“About 40 percent of the women in the high cortisol group of the study were on hormone replacement,” said Isaac
. Seshadri, however, points out that the discovery should not adversely affect the use of hormone replacement and stresses that the study results are more likely to show an association between cortisol levels and memory loss instead of the hormone causes dementia.
She suggests that more research is still required to further investigate high cortisol levels and its effect on the brain. (acr / mut)