NEW YORK — A new study has found that the stress and discrimination that comes from being a sexual minority can affect levels of cortisol, an adrenal hormone often referred to as “the stress hormone,” in gay men, Science Blog reports. Race is also a factor, researchers found.
For the study Cortisol profiles differ by race/ethnicity among young sexual minority men,” published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, healthy men with a mean age of 23 provided four saliva samples daily for five days to measure their cortisol levels at different times of day throughout a week.
The research data showed a flattened diurnal cortisol curve between black gay men to white gay men, with statistically significant differences found in bedtime levels of cortisol. In the current study, the observed flattened diurnal pattern observed among black gay men combined with their elevated evening levels suggests less daily variation in cortisol that may be indicative of an unhealthy stress response.
While beyond the scope of the current analysis, these findings suggest that social factors associated with being a double minority may differentially calibrate nighttime hormone levels in black gay men versus white.