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Our Better Health

Cortisol Controls Stress, but What Else?

By Matt McMillen      WebMD Health News      Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

Nov. 9, 2015 – Although cortisol is known as the “stress hormone,” researchers suspect it plays a much larger role in our health.

A recent study, for example, linked cortisol to memory in older adults. People with unusually high nighttime cortisol levels had reduced brain size and did more poorly on cognitive tests. Scientists are also investigating the hormone’s ties to heart disease risk and weight, to name a few.

“The effects of cortisol are felt over virtually the entire body,” says endocrinologist Robert Courgi, MD, who practices at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y.

But researchers are just starting to understand what those effects are.

“Many of us endocrinologists are interested in this idea that our day-to-day cortisol levels, whether they are high or low, might make a…

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