Study shows link between cortisol and higher blood sugar levels with T2DM

July 15, 2020

A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and The Ohio State University College of Medicine documents a link between the stress hormone cortisol and higher blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The study published online in Psychoneuroendocrinology.

“In healthy people, cortisol fluctuates naturally throughout the day, spiking in the morning and falling at night,” said Joshua J. Joseph, MD, an endocrinologist and researcher at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center who led the study. “But in participants with type 2 diabetes, cortisol profiles that were flatter throughout the day, had higher glucose levels.”

Previous research has shown that stress and depression are two of the major causes of a flatter cortisol profile. These sustained levels of cortisol make it much more difficult to control blood sugar and manage the disease, which is why it is so important for those with type 2 diabetes to find ways to reduce stress.

The relationship of cortisol with glucose levels was only observed in those with diabetes. However, Joseph and his team believe the stress hormone likely plays an important role in diabetes prevention, and they continue to research the connection between cortisol and the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Joseph collaborated with researchers at Johns Hopkins University; University of Maryland School of Medicine; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Michigan; Boston University and the National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health.

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