Life Stressors and Neuroendocrine Allostatic Load in Costa Rica

Omer Gersten, Academia Sinica
William H. Dow, University of California, Berkeley

Allostatic load (AL) theory purports that stress experienced over the life course exacts a cumulative, physiological toll on the body that eventually contributes to poor health. Although mounting evidence indicates that elevated levels of AL is a risk factor for poor health later in life, it is not yet clear whether those same elevated levels are due to stressor exposure. To better understand the connection between stressor exposure and AL levels, we analyze data from the Costa Rican Healthy Aging Study, a new, nationally representative survey of older Costa Rican men and women. This paper focuses on the relation between a variety of stressors experienced over the life course (e.g., economic deprivation early in life, death of children and years widowed) and four neuroendocrine markers analyzed in an index. None of the stressors examined were associated with riskier neuroendocrine biomarker profiles, suggesting that neuroendocrine system dysregulation stems from sources other than stressor exposure.

  See paper

Presented in Session 98: Biomarkers in Demographic Research