March 9, 2013
We all know too much stress is a bad thing. Prolonged physical and mental stress leads to chronically elevated cortisol which has been associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, insomnia, immune suppression, certain types of cancer, senility, and obesity among others. A study out of Denmark set out to try and find out why elevated cortisol levels lead to an accelerated aging process. A sample of 220 elderly men and women with an average age between 65 - 83 years old was used for the study. A 24 hour urinary excretion of cortisol and two markers of DNA and RNA oxidative damage were obtained Those with the highest levels of cortisol had a 57% to 61% higher average excretion of the DNA and RNA oxidation markers than those with the lowest levels of cortisol. DNA and RNA oxidation markers directly measure how much damage is taking place on the DNA and RNA strands. As has been shown in multiple studies there is a direct relationship between oxidative damage and mutliple disease processes including cancer, autoimmune disease, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Association between Urinary Excretion of Cortisol and Markers of Oxidatively Damaged DNA and RNA in Humans. PLoS ONE 6(6): e20795.