Patterns of cortisol and craving by menstrual phase in women attempting to quit smoking

Alicia M. Allen, Sharon S. Allen, Jennifer Widenmier, Mustafa al'Absi

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22 Scopus citations


Research indicates stress, craving and menstrual phase may play a role in relapse to smoking. It remains unknown how these factors may interact during cessation. This study describes the relationship between craving and cortisol concentrations by menstrual phase during ad libitum smoking and investigates the impact of this relationship on time to relapse. Five assessments of cortisol concentrations and craving levels were collected the day before smoking cessation in female smokers (n = 38) during either the follicular (n = 21; F) or luteal (n = 17; L) phase. Craving at wake-up was significantly greater in the F phase than the L phase (2.5 ± 1.9 vs. 1.1 ± 1.4; p = 0.018; respectively). Decreased levels of morning cortisol concentrations and a greater decline from morning to the nadir levels in cortisol were associated with increased craving at bedtime in the L (r = - 0.68, p = 0.002; r = - 0.67, p = 0.003; respectively), but not in the F phase. Craving at wake-up was a significant predictor of time to relapse (p = 0.008). Our results indicate that menstrual phase may play a role in the relationship among craving, cortisol concentrations, and risk for relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-635
Number of pages4
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by NIDA grant 2-R01-DA08075. We thank our research staff – Tracy Bade, Nicole Cordes and Roshan Paudal – for their help with study management, subject recruitment, data measurement and data entry.


  • Cortisol
  • Craving
  • Female
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Smoking cessation


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