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Stress hormone linked to brain shrinkage and worse memory: Study

Cortisol is a known stress hormone in the body responsible for the fight or flight response. New research has now…

Cortisol is a known stress hormone in the body responsible for the fight or flight response. New research has now shown that it can also be linked to worse memory and brain shrinkage before age 50. Pixabay )

Researchers of a new study found that stress can lead to impaired memory and lower brain volume. The result of the study emphasizes the importance of reducing stress.

Inferior Memory and Lower Brain Volume

In a new study, a team of researchers identified over 2,000 people, with an average age of 49 years, from the state-sponsored Framingham Heart Study, all of which do not have dementia.

At the beginning of the study, all 2,231

participants passed a series of psychological tests, tests for thinking and memory skills and were tested again after eight years. At the end of the study, they also gave blood samples and had MRI scans.

Researchers found that those with higher cortisol levels, a known stress hormone, had lower score on memory and thinking tests than those with normal cortisol levels. In addition, they also associated higher cortisol levels with lower total brain volume.

According to the researchers, memory loss and brain shrinkage were observed in relatively younger to middle-aged adults before symptoms can be seen, with the compounds more common among women than men.

Stress Hormones

Cortisol is an important stress hormone in the human body that is usually associated with the fight or flight response. The adrenal glands produce more cortisol when it is high alert and returns to normal when the danger or crisis has passed. This is the body’s way of surviving by turning off systems that can interfere with high alert and regain them normally.

However, the problem begins when the body’s stress response is prolonged and can lead to problems such as depression, sleep disturbances, weight gain, headache, anxiety and memory and concentration problems.

According to experts, the brain is particularly sensitive to such changes due to the amounts of nutrients and oxygen that it needs to function properly. Of course, when the body distributes more resources to handle stress, fewer resources go into the brain.

Reduce stress

The researchers do not say that stress causes brain damage, but they simply revealed the compounds between brain functions and stress. More studies are needed to fully understand the relationship between cortisol and brain function, but researchers suggest that lifestyle changes reduce stress.

“It’s important for people to find ways to reduce stress,” says Justin B. Echouffo-Tcheugui, senior author of the study, and noted that this can be done in various ways, such as training and relaxation techniques.

The study is published in the journal Neurology .

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