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Internalized Racism and it’s effect on Cortisol Levels

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Hypothesis: Internalized Racism (INR) the psychological state of believing, internalizing, and acting in accordance with the negative stereotypes and beliefs of another ethnic groups produces a …

Hypothesis: Internalized Racism (INR) the psychological state of believing, internalizing, and acting in accordance with the negative stereotypes and beliefs of another ethnic groups produces a chronic defeat response to psychosocial stresses which leads to impaired cortisol levels.

Background: It’s been demonstrated in African Caribbean women that high levels of INR is associated with a reduced difference between peak morning and low evening salivary Cortisol levels, suggesting dysregulation (impaired) of Cortisol.

Aim: The aim of this study is to determine if high levels of INR in a convenient South African sample leads to impaired Cortisol levels.

Methods: In South Africa INR was measured and collected from male and female non-diabetic South Africans ages 20 and above with high and low INR. Cortisol levels were collected and determined from each patient using saliva samples collected from 9:00AM-11:30AM and 2:45PM-4:00PM.

Results: The data suggest INR leads to impaired Cortisol regulation in South Africans. This is shown through the reduced difference between the morning and afternoon samples of patients with high INR in the diurnal rhythm in cortisol secretion of those with low INR.


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  • Thanks. It would have good to get a comparator group i.e whites in South Africa
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  • INR Ranges Tert 1 (Low – 26)INRTert 3 (33 – High)
  • Transcript

    • 1. Internalized Racism and it’s effect on Cortisol Levels
      Tyler Thompson, Alicia Cosey, Eugene Machaba, Zodwa Masinga,
      Dr. Ephraim Gwebu, Dr. Eugene Tull, Prof. Opoku, & Dr. Malcolm Cort
      Elizabeth City State University & University of Zululand
    • 2. Introduction
      • Internalized Racism (INR)- The psychological state of believing, internalizing, and acting in accordance with the negative stereotypes and beliefs of another society. (Ex. Apartheid in South Africa and Jim Crowism)
      • 3. Cortisol’s dysregulation in response to continuous stress has been shown to lead to Insulin resistance which has adverse affects such as the Metabolic Syndrome. (Hypertension, Hyperglycemia, Large Waist Circumference, etc)
      • 4. The Health Disparities among blacks are significantly different in comparison with their Caucasian counterparts and INR as a psychosocial stressor could be the reason why.
      • 5. It’s been demonstrated in African Caribbean women that high levels of INR is associated with a reduced difference between peak morning and low evening salivary Cortisol levels, suggesting dysregulation of Cortisol.
      • In previous literature investigations have shown that a high perceived stress and defeated coping style may be factors that link high INR to impaired Cortisol regulation and, perhaps, also greater risk of metabolic abnormalities. (Eugene S. Tull, et al.)
      • 6. Normal function of the HPA axis is characterized by a diurnal rhythm in cortisol secretion, with peak levels in the morning followed by lower levels into evening. (Peeters F, Nicholson NA, et al.)
      • 7. The recent work of Per Bjorntorp et al. relating stress-mediated dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adreanal (HPA) axis to abdominal obesity and glucose intolerance in humans suggest a possible psychobiological pathway that may link a high level of INR to adverse metabolic outcomes such as abdominal obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular risks (CVD).
      Literature Review
    • 8. Hypothesis: Long-term exposure to acculturative stress may lead to insulin resistance mediated clustering of cardio-metabolic abnormalities.
      Elevated Glucose
      Elevated Blood Pressure
      Elevated Triglycerides
      Met-S
      Acculturative Stress
      Insulin Resistance
      Low HDL cholesterol
      Large Waist cm
      Met-S – Metabolic Syndrome
      Acculturative Stress– Feelings of social disconnection and despair
    • 9. Literature Review Cont.
    • 10. Literature Review Cont.
      Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis in Response to Stress (www.vitalifenetworks.com/VL_Cortisol.php)
      Elevated Glucose
      Hypertension
      Large Waist Circum.
      Etc.
      Acculturative Stress
      Insulin Resistance
    • 11.
      • The purpose of this research is to determine there is a statistically significant difference between the morning and the afternoon Cortisol Levels
      • 12. Determine the correlation of INR to the stress hormone Cortisol levels.
      • 13. Determine if INR leads to Cortisol dysregulation by comparing the difference between the AM and PM samples between high and low INR patients.
      • 14. Cortisol- is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal cortex which is secreted in response to any stress in the body. It is the most potent glucocorticoid and helps regulate blood pressure and the body’s use of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
      Objective & Conceptual Model
      Impaired Cortisol Levels
      High INR
    • 15.
      • INR was measured using the Nadoanolitization Scale (NAD) (Taylor & Grundy, 1996; Tull, 2006)
      • 16. NAD is a 24-item scale measuring the extent to which blacks have internalized racist concepts
      • 17. Higher scores indicate a greater internalization of the negative stereotypes or belief of another society.
      Methodology
    • 18. Methodology Cont.
      Example of Questionnaire Items
      Measure of Internalized Racism using NAD
      • Examples:
      • 19. Blacks are born with greater sexual desire than white people
      • 20. Blacks are born with greater physical strength and endurance than whites
      • 21. Blacks are born with more musical talent than whites
      • 22. Black men are better at sex than white men
      • 23. Whites are intellectually superior than blacks
      • Saliva samples were collected twice a day between 9:00AM-11:30AM in the morning and 2:45PM-4:00PM in the afternoon using the special saliva sampling devices.
      Saliva Collection Methodology
    • 24.
      • The Enzyme Immunoassay Kit for the quantitative measurement of Cortisol in saliva by Diagnostics Systems Laboratories was used according to the protocol
      • 25. Each sample was centrifuged for 10 min and stored at 20C.
      • 26. 100 l of each Cortisol standards and samples were dispensed into their appropriate wells that contained a Cortisol antibody binding sites.
      • 27. 200 l of Cortisol Conjugated to horseradish peroxidase (C-HRP) was added to the samples and allowed to incubate for 1 hour to allow C-HRP to bind to the remaining unbounded Cortisol antibody binding sites in the wells.
      Cortisol Assay Methodology
    • 28.
      • The contents of the wells were removed and rinsed 3 times with diluted wash solution (400 lper well)to remove any unbound substance in the wells.
      • 29. 200 l of Substrate solution Tetramethylbenzidine (TMB) & H2O2 was added and incubated for 30 minutes to allow TMB to be oxidized.
      • 30. 100 l of the Stop solution H2SO4 was added to denature the HRP enzyme and stop any further oxidization of TMB.
      • 31. The absorbance of each well was determined at 450 + 10nm.
      Methodology Cont.
    • 32. Results
      Cortisol Plate #1 Standard Curve June 1st 2010
    • 33. These samples were collected on May 27, 2010, May 31, 2010, and June 2, 2010.
    • 34. Results
      Table 1
      Characteristics of South Africans with High and Low levels of INR
    • 35. Table 1
      The Relationship between Mean AM and PM Cortisol Levels (ng/ml)
      Paired sampest Test
      • This table shows that there is a statistically significant difference between the mean AM Cortisol Levels and the PM Cortisol Levels (t = 4.668, p = 0.000)
    • Table 2
      The Relationship between INR & ME(Mean AM and PM Cortisol Levels) (ng/ml)
      Paired sampest Test
    • 36. Conclusion
      • There is a statistically significant difference between the morning and afternoon samples in all samples collected.
      • 37. Morning samples of Cortisol show to be statistically higher in the morning than the afternoon.
      • 38. The data suggest that INR leads to impaired Cortisol levels. This is shown through the reduced difference between the morning and afternoon samples of patients with high INR.