If you find this hormone in your hair, you can be in danger. Find out how?

In today’s hectic and stressful world, one has to be careful about their health as stress is becoming one of the prime reasons for heart diseases.


New research has shown that augmented levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the hair shaft, which is a marker for chronic stress, increase the risk of heart attack. Levels of cortisol have earlier been measured in blood, urine, and saliva, but these quantities only provide a picture of stress at the moment.

Hair cortisol, however, can provide a longer-term valuation of stress levels. Hair grows about 1 centimetre a month, so a 3-centimeter hair sample, for example, is a marker for stress over three months.


1 What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone which is identified as a “stress hormone” that is bad for the body. It is true that the body does discharge cortisol in reaction to different kinds of stress, it is vital to identify that our body’s capability to respond to stress is acute to our health and endurance.

Even the enhancements in physical fitness that we get through exercise are a method of stress reaction. Cortisol’s effects on the body are essentially valuable except when we are subjected to too much stress. Then it becomes too much of a good thing. But, of course, cortisol is not extraordinary in this regard.

What is Cortisol?

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2 Hair cortisol levels and heart risks

In their experiments and study, researchers matched 3-centimeter hair parts from 56 men who were hospitalized after a heart attack to the hair strands from men who were hospitalized for illnesses other than a heart attack.


It a found post-tests that the men who suffered from heart attacks displayed greater levels of cortisol in their hair than men who did not have heart attacks. The new results detained even after researchers measured for other known risk aspects for heart disease.

Both groups had similar amounts of definite heart disease risk aspects such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and family history of heart disease, but the men who had heart attacks did show greater blood levels of low concentration lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol levels, and higher body mass indexes (BMI), than their counterparts who did not suffer from heart attack. In addition, men who had heart attacks also had lower levels of high density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol levels.

Hair cortisol levels and heart risks

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3 Can the stress be lowered?

In today’s world, stress has become a part of life. Financial problems, family problems and other kind of stresses can also become a factor in increase of heart attacks.


Some heart disease risk reasons can be altered such as blood pressure and cholesterol, while others like age and gender can’t. Dr Stan Vanum explains that, “We don’t know if cortisol is one that we can change,” he says. “If we can reduce it with stress-reduction measures, that is great, but if we can’t, it could point us toward a high-risk group who will benefit from more aggressive management of other modifiable risk factors.”

Stress can be lowered with living in a calming and stress free environment. Try and give yourself some me time in a stress free zone for an hour or so every day. No phones, TV or internet, just you and you may take assistance of yoga or breathing techniques.

Can the stress be lowered?

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4 Is cortisol the new cholesterol?

Redford Williams, MD, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. said that “Not only did hair cortisol levels differ among men in each group, but they were also the strongest predictor of who would have a heart attack.”


Though it is not yet in advanced stage that one has to get his/her hair cortisol checked regularly, but the research is reaching the point that it can definitively tell whether higher level of cortisol can really cause heart attacks.

Is cortisol the new cholesterol?

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Dr. Williams have requested people to control their level of stress. He has suggested changing the lifestyle to reduce stress. Incorporate changes such as letting go of anger, stress, and frustration which can reduce the level of cortisol in the body.


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