A person’s diet can also be responsible for some of their problematic behaviors. These behaviors include smoking, drinking, and eating unhealthy food. While cortisol levels may not be the sole cause of cancer, they are clearly a contributing factor. This article will examine some of the possible ways that elevated levels of these hormones may be causing the disease.
The adrenal glands release a variety of hormones when under stress, including cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones help the body respond to an emergency, including a heart attack or stroke. Although stress hormones play an important role in the fight or flight response, high levels can have negative effects on the body. High levels of stress can lead directly to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, as well as unhealthy coping strategies.
A healthy pregnancy would have a low baseline cortisol level. Stress hormone levels start to rise exponentially in the second trimester, when cortisol stimulates overproduction of glucocorticoids. And in the womb, elevated levels of cortisol contribute to developing the syndrome in both the mother and the baby. In later life, elevated levels of stress hormones not only increase a woman’s chance of miscarriage early on, but also contribute to preeclampsia and premature births, as well as postnatal developmental delays.
It is not clear what role elevated stress hormones play in the development of cognitive impairment in the elderly. However, glucocorticoid levels in the brain have been linked to a decrease in hippocampal volume. Different research groups are studying the role of stress hormones and pathological cognitive impairment. If elevated levels of stress hormones are responsible for a decline in elderly memory, they may be responsible for hippocampal atrophy.