Neuroendocrine Biomarkers, Social Relations, and the Costs of Cumulative Stress in Taiwan

Omer Gersten, University of California, Berkeley

It is thought that the cost of cumulative life stress, or allostatic load (AL), may play a role in the causal pathway between social integration and health, and that positive social relations could reduce such load. While AL constructs have been linked to negative health outcomes downstream, there is much less evidence showing that baseline AL is actually a reflection of previous life stress. This paper uses a measure of neuroendocrine allostatic load (NAL), a construct focusing on four neuroendocrine biomarkers. This paper attempts to link NAL to enduring stressors, with attention to those related to social ties. An important finding is that current, subjective stressors (as reported among women) are correlated with NAL, while other stressors of an enduring nature are not. These results suggest that the neuroendocrine markers of AL may be more reflective of a currently stressful state, rather than a cumulative one over the life course.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology