Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Diurnal Cortisol Trajectories in Middle-Aged and Older Adults

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives Slow afternoon cortisol decline may be a marker of aging. We hypothesize that lower socioeconomic status (SES) and African American race are associated with lower waking cortisol and slower afternoon decline. Method Six salivary cortisol samples, collected within a 24-hr period from 566 cohort participants aged 56-78 years, were examined in random-effects models. SES measures included socioeconomic vulnerability (household income and assets <500% of poverty) and education (≥college, some college, and ≤high school). African Americans were compared with all others. Results Adjusting for age and sex, intermediate, but not low, education was associated with approximately 17% lower average waking cortisol and 1% slower decline, compared with high education. Socioeconomic vulnerability was not associated with waking cortisol or linear decline. Accounting for African American race/ethnicity, socioeconomic vulnerability was associated with a 3% faster decline, and education was not associated with cortisol. African Americans had 26% lower average waking cortisol and 1% slower decline than others. Discussion African American race/ethnicity, but not lower SES, was associated with lower waking cortisol and slower afternoon decline in middle-aged and older adults. This pattern is likely a marker of earlier biological aging in vulnerable groups. Race/ethnicity may compete with SES as a measure of cumulative vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-476
Number of pages9
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume73
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2 2018

Keywords

  • Earlier aging
  • Education
  • Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis
  • Wealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Socioeconomic Status, Race/Ethnicity, and Diurnal Cortisol Trajectories in Middle-Aged and Older Adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this