Glucocorticoid (GC) signaling varies among individuals, and this variation may relate to individual differences in health outcomes. To determine if and which aspects of signaling (basal, circadian, integrative, or reactivity) are associated with specific health outcomes, we reviewed recent studies that relate GCs to health outcomes. We identified papers through PubMed and reviewed 100 original research articles related to mental health, cardiovascular health, cancer, diabetes, obesity, pulmonary health, sleep, and fitness. Many studies reported elevated GC secretion associated with worse health, but this was only particularly true for integrative GC measures. On the other hand, accentuated cortisol awakening response and a steeper circadian rhythm were both associated with positive health outcomes. Overall, relationships between GC secretion and health outcomes were relatively weak. This systematic review of relationships between GC metrics and health outcomes highlights the importance of careful consideration when selecting methods to measure GC regulation in health research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems