Hair Proves Stress, Heart Attack Linked

LONDON, Ontario, Sept. 4 (UPI) — Human hair shows chronic stresses — including job, marital and financial — play an important role in heart attacks, researchers in Canada say.

Dr. Gideon Koren and Dr. Stan Van Uum the University of Western in Ontario developed a procedure to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is secreted during times of stress. It is usually measured in blood, urine or saliva, but that only measures the level of cortisol at the time of measurement.


The study involved hair samples from 56 male adults who were admitted to the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar-Saba, Israel, after suffering heart attacks. Hair samples of a control group of 56 male patients hospitalized for other reasons than a heart attack were collected.

The study, published online in the journal Stress, finds compared to the control group, the hair samples of the men with heart attacks had higher hair cortisol levels for the previous three months.

“Intuitively we know stress is not good for you, but it’s not easy to measure,” Koren says in a statement. “We know that on average, hair grows one centimeter — about a half-inch — a month, and so if we take a hair sample 6 cm long, we can determine stress levels for 6 months by measuring the cortisol level in the hair.”

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