Monday, July 22, 2013

Single Strand Of Hair Can Reveal Stress and May Become Predictor of Heart Disease

by Andrea L. Algar
Contributing Author

We've known for a long time that hair retains chemical traces of what we eat and drink. DNA scientists are able to use hair to identify the unique identifiers that each of us have in our hair. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism have now linked high levels of cortisol in seniors to a higher risk of heart disease, demonstrating that stress indeed may make us more prone to cardiovascular problems, and they're now able to determine stress levels by looking at hair!

Microscopic view of a hair strand
Photo Credit: nisenet.org
Cortisol, a stress hormone which can be found in hair, was analysed after hair samples were taken from the heads of 283 research participants aged 65 to 85. Researchers were able to examine their cortisol levels over the prior three months, and found that those "with high cortisol levels were more likely to have a history of coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and diabetes," according to the report by Everyday Health.

Dr. Laura Manenschija of Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in a news release from the Endocrine Society, "Because scalp hair can capture information about how cortisol levels have changed over time, hair analysis gives us a better tool for evaluating that risk." Now that a link has been demonstrated, more research will undoubtedly be done to see if a reliable predictor can be established, and use that for both prevention and treatment for seniors (and perhaps others) at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Melissa White, owner of Extensions of Yourself, a San Antonio salon which specializes in human hair extensions, isn't surprised by the news. She explains, "It is very important for me to assess the condition of my client's hair during my initial consultation. I often see women whose hair reveals poor diet, stress or other issues that can lead to hair that is severely damaged. It's especially evident when the client has been 'doing everything right' and they still have problems with their hair. That damage can affect the hair extensions they want put in so I want to bring their own hair back to health if I can.

"I know from personal experience that stress can lead to hair thinning and even hair loss. My own hair loss began when my dad was critically ill. I now know that the stress I endured not only affected my hair, but probably put me at risk for depression, eating disorders and maybe even heart disease, which is frightening. Thankfully, that stress is behind me and only my hair suffered, but I know I need to watch my stress."

White went on to say that her goal in assessing stressed hair in her clients is to get them on a healthy track so that they have the best possible experience with their hair extensions. Her goal is to get their own hair healthy so that the hair extensions look better and last longer. She states, "Using quality hair care products, eliminating excessive heat styling, using hair friendly hair accessories, and looking at ways to reduce damage to your hair will pay off with better looking hair that won't be damaged by hair extensions. Reducing how often you shampoo, using cooler water for your shampoo and air-drying a bit before styling are all things that are quite easy to do and will noticeably improve your hair." Drinking plenty of water to flush contaminates from your body (and hair), as well as vitamins that can promote healthy hair are things she thinks is helpful as well.

REFERENCE:
Everyday Health - Seriously Stressed? Hair Analysis Tells All, Study Finds (VIDEO)
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