The relationships among caffeine, stress, and cortisol secretion will also be of interest to Dartmouth’s caffeinated masses. Repeated doses of caffeine over a single day result in markedly increased cortisol levels, regardless of the stressor involved or the sex of the individual. Although the extent of the link has not been fully elucidated, a positive relationship clearly exists between caffeine intake and cortisol release, and this relationship is exacerbated when other stressors are introduced. Thus, supplementing a lack of sleep with multiple cups of coffee or energy drinks actually reinforces the negative effects of the stress response and further undermines performance. The benefits of caffeine intake must be balanced with its implications for cortisol secretion. (18)
Second, there is some evidence that premature adrenarche may indicate that there was an abnormality of intrauterine energy environment and growth. As mentioned above, premature adrenarche occurs more often in children with intrauterine growth retardation and in overweight children. Some of these same studies have demonstrated that some girls who display premature adrenarche may continue to have excessive androgen levels in adolescence. This can result in hirsutism or menstrual irregularities due to anovulation referred to as polycystic ovary syndrome .