How stressed are you? Scientists Could Soon Find Out… By Looking At Your Hair

How stressed are you? Scientists will soon be able to find out by looking at your HAIR

  • Study suggests cortisol levels in hair may indicate how stressed you are
  • Researchers studied hair levels in nearly 1,300 women in Mexico and Iceland
  • The fifth of the most stressed women had almost a quarter of higher cortisol concentration

Stress can make you pull your hair out.

But scientists can now detect how much pressure you’re actually under by inspecting the locks themselves.

Researchers have found they can accurately detect levels of cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone – in your hair.

Until now, scientists could only spot the stress hormone in blood, urine or saliva.

The team said the findings suggest measuring the hormone in hair may be a good way to identify chronic stress.

The condition can, over time, cause anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure, and even a weakened immune system.

A study of nearly 1,300 women in Mexico and Iceland found that the top fifth of stressed people had almost a quarter more concentrated cortisol in their hair than those in the bottom fifth.

A study of nearly 1,300 women in Mexico and Iceland found that the top fifth of stressed people had almost a quarter more concentrated cortisol in their hair than those in the bottom fifth.

What is the “stress hormone” cortisol?

Cortisol is considered nature’s built-in alarm system.

Although stress is not the only reason it is produced, it has been called the “stress hormone” because it is released when the body is in “fight or flight” mode.

It is produced in the kidneys secreted into the bloodstream.

Normally, the body produces higher levels in the morning and lower levels at night.

But if levels stay too high for too long, it can lead to a range of health problems, including anxiety, depression, heart disease and sleep disturbances.

It can also cause a condition called Cushing’s syndrome which causes rapid weight gain, easily bruised skin, muscle weakness, and diabetes.

The study, published in PLOS Global Public Health, analyzed hair samples from 881 women in Mexico and 398 women in Iceland.

The researchers took the hair at the root and analyzed the 3cm long section closest to their scalp in a machine.

Hair grows 1 cm per month, so the area represents the last three months.

The same women were then given a 10-point survey asking them how stressed they felt.

Questions asked them to what extent they “find their lives unpredictable, out of control, and overloaded.”

They answered on a five-point scale, and the researchers divided the respondents into five groups based on their total scores, which indicated how stressed they were.

Women who scored in the top fifth for stress levels had 24.3% higher cortisol levels than those in the bottom fifth, according to the results.

Study author Dr Rebekka Lynch, from Reykjavik University, said this suggests measuring cortisol in hair could hold promise for diagnosing chronic stress.

The researchers wrote: “An association between perceived stress and [hair cortisol concentration] was found in a sample of women from two diverse geographical and cultural backgrounds.

‘[It supports] the assumption that [hair cortisol concentration] is a viable biomarker in studies of chronic psychological stress.

Cortisol is considered nature’s built-in alarm system.

Although stress is not the only reason it is produced, it has been called the “stress hormone” because it is released when the body is in “fight or flight” mode.

Normally, the body produces higher levels in the morning and lower levels at night.

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