Neuroendocrine biomarkers, marital relations, and cumulative stress in Taiwan

Omer Gersten, University of California, Berkeley

The cost of cumulative life stress, or allostatic load (AL), may play a role in the causal pathway between social integration and health and positive social relations could reduce such load. While AL constructs have been linked to negative health outcomes downstream, there is much less evidence showing that baseline AL is actually a reflection of previous life stress. This paper uses a measure of primary allostatic load (PAL), which is a construct focusing on four neuroendocrine biomarkers. This paper attempts to link PAL to enduring stressors, with attention to those related to social ties. An important finding is that current, subjective stressors (as reported among women) are correlated with PAL while various other stressors of an enduring nature are not. Among other things, these results suggest that the neuroendocrine markers of AL may be more reflective of a currently stressful state than a cumulative one over the life course.

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Presented in Poster Session 4