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September 30, 1974

Hair Analysis: What Does It Tell Us?

Author Affiliations

Chairman AMA Committee on Cutaneous Health and Cosmetics

JAMA. 1974;229(14):1908-1909. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230520050034

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In selected applications in forensic, clinical, or epidemiologic medicine, trace-metal hair analysis, along with other tests, is a useful tool. Nevertheless, present scientific knowledge does not support the use of metal levels in hair for broad, sophisticated, subtle diagnostic purposes (such as vitamin deficiencies, enzyme activity, and allergic states), and certainly, hair analysis is not desirable for routine use.

The state of health of the body may be entirely unrelated to the physical and chemical condition of the hair. Hair can be mechanically damaged by rough drying procedures, brushing, combing, or pulling (as in the use of rollers). Chemically, hair can be altered during waving, straightening, dyeing, and bleaching; moreover, products such as "tonics," hair sprays, conditioning or grooming aids, or shampoos also influence the condition of the hair; lead, zinc, and selenium are deposited on the hair after the use of some of these preparations.

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