Stressors Over the Life Course and Physiological Dysregulation in Costa Rica

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

Allostatic load (AL) theory purports that stress experienced over the entire life course exacts a cumulative, physiological toll on the body which eventually contributes to poor health. Although mounting evidence indicates that elevated levels of AL is a risk factor for poor health, it is not yet clear whether those same elevated levels are due to stressor exposure. Thus, in order to better understand the connection between stressor exposure and AL levels, the paper here, using a new, nationally representative study conducted in Costa Rica, explores the link between a number of different potentially important life stressors and neuroendocrine system function. The main finding of this paper is that there is little association between the life stress indicators and risky levels of the neuroendocrine biomarkers. This result is consistent with a growing literature that suggests that neuroendocrine system dysregulation stems from sources other than stressor exposure.

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Presented in Session 95: Biodemographic Perspectives on Early Life Influences on Later Life Health