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Plasma glucocorticogenic activity, race/ethnicity and alcohol intake among San Francisco Bay Area women


Racial and ethnic minorities are at higher risk for a variety of diseases. While sociodemographic and lifestyle factors contribute to racial/ethnic health disparities, the biological processes underlying these associations remain poorly understood. Stress and its biological consequences through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) have been hypothesized to mediate adverse disease outcomes. In fasting morning samples of 503 control women from the San Francisco Bay Area Breast Cancer Study, we used a sensitive Chemical-Activated LUciferase gene eXpression (CALUX) assay to examine the association of sociodemographic and lifestyle factors with plasma glucocorticogenic (G) activity in three racial/ethnic groups. The G activity is a sensitive measure that reflects biological activity of total plasma glucocorticoids including cortisol and glucocorticoid-like compounds. Associations between G activity and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors were examined using multivariable linear regression models. Latina and non-Latina Black (NLB) women had 9% (P = 0.053) and 14% (P = 0.008) lower morning G activity than non-Latina White (NLW) women, respectively. Additionally, we replicated a previously reported association between G activity and alcohol intake (women who drank >10gms had 19% higher G activity than non-drinkers, P = 0.004) in Latina and NLB women. Further research should assess the association between G activity and health outcomes in a prospective cohort so as to characterize the relationship between total plasma G activity in pre-disease state and disease outcomes across different racial/ethnic populations.

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