The Relationship between Alcohol Consumption and Cortisol Secretion in an Aging Cohort

The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship between indices of alcohol consumption and salivary cortisol concentration. Saliva samples were collected at wake-up, wake-up + 0.5, 2.5, 8, and 12 h, and at bedtime for the assessment of cortisol levels.

In men, there was a positive association between cortisol and units of alcohol consumed per week (3% increase in cortisol per unit of alcohol consumed; P = 0.010). The slope of the cortisol decline over the day was decreased in heavy drinkers (heavy drinkers β = -0.155, moderate drinkers β = -0.151), indicating decreased control of the HPA axis in heavy drinkers. In women, the cortisol awakening response was greater in heavy drinkers 14.15 nmol/liter (9.12-19.17) than in moderate drinkers 8.69 nmol/liter (7.72-9.67) (P = 0.037).

This study suggests that alcohol consumption is associated with activation of the HPA axis. These results are not due to daytime alcohol consumption, suggesting chronic changes in the HPA axis in groups with heavy alcohol consumption.


J Clin Endocrinol Metab.: The Relationship between Alcohol Consumption and Cortisol Secretion in an Aging Cohort

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