The assessment of cortisol in human hair: Associations with sociodemographic variables and potential confounders.
ABSTRACT To inform the future use of hair cortisol measurement, we have investigated influences of potential confounding variables (natural hair colour, frequency of hair washes, age, sex, oral contraceptive (OC) use and smoking status) on hair cortisol levels. The main study sample comprised 360 participants (172 women) covering a wide range of ages (1-91 years; mean = 25.95). In addition, to more closely examine influences of natural hair colour and young age on hair cortisol levels, two additional samples comprising 69 participants with natural blond or dark brown hair (hair colour sample) as well as 28 young children and 34 adults (young age sample) were recruited. Results revealed a lack of an effect for natural hair colour, OC use, and smoking status on hair cortisol levels (all p's >0.10). No influence of frequency of hair washes was seen for proximal hair segments (p = 0.335) but for the third hair segment indicating lower cortisol content (p = 0.008). We found elevated hair cortisol levels in young children and older adults (p < 0.001). Finally, men showed higher hair cortisol levels than women (p = 0.002). The present data indicate that hair cortisol measurement provides a useful tool in stress-related psychobiological research when applied with the consideration of possible confounders including age and sex.
Article: High Long-Term Cortisol Levels, Measured in Scalp Hair, Are Associated With a History of Cardiovascular Disease.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Background:Stress is associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease. The impact of chronic stress on cardiovascular risk has been studied by measuring cortisol in serum and saliva, which are measurements of only 1 time point. These studies yielded inconclusive results. The measurement of cortisol in scalp hair is a novel method that provides the opportunity to measure long-term cortisol exposure. Our aim was to study whether long-term cortisol levels, measured in scalp hair, are associated with cardiovascular diseases.Methods:A group of 283 community-dwelling elderly participants were randomly selected from a large population-based cohort study (median age, 75 y; range, 65-85 y). Cortisol was measured in 3-cm hair segments, corresponding roughly with a period of 3 months. Self-reported data concerning coronary heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes mellitus, and other chronic noncardiovascular diseases were collected.Results:Hair cortisol levels were significantly lower in women than in men (21.0 vs 26.3 pg/mg hair; P < .001). High hair cortisol levels were associated with an increased cardiovascular risk (odds ratio, 2.7; P = .01) and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (odds ratio, 3.2; P = .04). There were no associations between hair cortisol levels and noncardiovascular diseases.Conclusions:Elevated long-term cortisol levels are associated with a history of cardiovascular disease. The increased cardiovascular risk we found is equivalent to the effect of traditional cardiovascular risk factors, suggesting that long-term elevated cortisol may be an important cardiovascular risk factor.The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism 04/2013; · 6.50 Impact Factor