There is a growing interest in hair cortisol concentrations as a valuable biomarker for the assessment of metabolic diseases and chronic psychological stress. Fifty-three volunteers were recruited, and hair segments proximal to the scalp were collected from each individual. A cost-effective ball mill was used for the preparation of hair samples, and ELISA was performed to analyze cortisol concentrations. Results indicate that the frequency of hair washing affects the hair cortisol concentration. The group that washed their hair every day had significantly lower cortisol concentrations than the group that washed it less often. However, no significant differences were detected between cosmetic-treated and nontreated hair samples. The study also shows that hair cortisol concentrations in the first 3 cm of hair segments proximal to the scalp corresponded to average hair growth rate based on 1 cm/month. Thus, hair cortisol concentrations of segments 3 cm proximal to the scalp may represent cumulative stress exposure over the previous 3 months. These findings will allow more widespread research to validate the utility of hair cortisol as a potential biomarker to assess chronic stress.

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