CLEVELAND — A new study by researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and The Ohio State University College of Medicine documents a clear link between the stress hormone cortisol and higher blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
We're living in some stressful times, but all that tension can have serious health impacts on people with type 2 diabetes. Especially if they can't get the stress hormone, cortisol, under control.
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In healthy people, cortisol fluctuates naturally throughout the day, spiking in the morning and falling at night. But Dr. Joshua J. Joseph, an endocrinologist and researcher at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Diabetes and Metabolism Research Center who led the study says 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.
“We have begun a new trial to examine if mindfulness practices can lower blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes,” said Joseph, an assistant professor in the College of Medicine. “But this isn’t the only effective form of stress relief. It’s important to find something you enjoy and make it a part of your everyday routine.”
The relationship of cortisol with glucose levels was only observed in those with diabetes. However, Dr. 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.
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