What Your Hair Says About Your Health
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What Your Hair Says About Your Health

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Last updated August 1, 2016 (originally published December 1, 2010)
By MUIREANN PRENDERGAST, Contributing Columnist


Long flowing hair in women, a shiny high-crested wave on men-- these are the images that come to mind when we think of great hair. However, glossy hair isnít only the result of expensive shampoos, professional treatments and frequent visits to the hair salon, but is the reflection of a healthy body concludes a 2007 study carried out by University of Michigan Medicine School. What does the condition of your hair say about your health? Does your hair condition indicate certain diseases or conditions you may suffer from without knowing?

What Exactly Is Healthy Hair ?

A 2007 study undertaken by a researcher on behalf of the Department of Dermatology St Vincent's Hospital, The Skin and Cancer Foundation of Victoria and The University of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, defined healthy hair broadly as shiny hair with a smooth texture and clean-cut ends or tapered tips.

In contrast, unhealthy hair involves loss of luster, frizz, split ends, brittle, dry, weak, thinning, hair with slow and/or uneven growth, alopecia and, in certain cases, graying hair.

However, as we will now see, bad hair is not a mere aesthetic issue.  Unhealthy hair can indicate certain underlying medical conditions and nutritional deficiencies.

We have culled medial research to come up with the following list of medical conditions which are indicated by the condition of your hair.  Here are the Top 10 things to look out for next time you brush your hair:

Top 10 Medical Conditions Indicated In Your Hair

1. Diabetes --Diabetics Have Small Hair Bulbs

A 1983 study carried out by The University of Maryland School of medicine revealed a link between thin hair and diabetes in children and adolescents. The study found that diabetic females had smaller hair bulb diameters and diabetics of both sexes had reduced hair shaft diameters in comparison to normal children of similar age.

2. Eating Disorders Changes the  Nitrogen and Carbon in Your Hair

A 2006 study carried out by Utahís Brigham Young University found that studying carbon and nitrogen in hair proteins could reveal if someone is suffering from an eating disorder and if they have poor daily nutrition. Researchers concluded that this hair test could reveal if patients are honest or not about whether they are suffering from bulimia or anorexia.

3. Zinc Deficiency Harms Hair

A 1996 Japanese study carried out at Nihon University Surugadai Hospital found that damage to scalp hair and overall hair thinness can be caused by zinc deficiency in a study carried out on a 5-month old Japanese girl.

4. Syphilis Shows Up In Your Hair Roots

A 1987 Swedish study revealed that both primary and secondary forms of syphilis can be detected from studies of the hair roots. Anagen hair roots, or hair roots in their growth phase, were seen to be decreasing in patients with syphilis with an increase in Catagen hair roots or the phases signaling the end of the growth phase and the start of a regressive one. This creates a link between syphilis and weak hair with slow growth.

5. High Levels of Androgens Causes Balding

A 2005 Taiwanese study carried out jointly by researchers in Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, Taipei and National Taiwan University, found that age-related hair loss among Asian men could be increased by smoking which decreases production of the hormone estrogen and activates production of androgens which stimulate hair growth.

6. Endocrine disorders Causes Hair Loss

A 2010 study carried out by the Medical University of Warsaw, Poland, studied hair loss as a symptom of several endocrine disorders, including hypopituitarism, hypothyreosis, hyperthyreosis, hypoparathyroidism.

7. Stress Causes Hair Loss

A 2008 Germany carried out at The University of Luebeck found that the hormones released during situations of stress and tension can lead to hair loss. The test was conducted on handball athletes during 2007 world championships as a period of stress. The study demonstrated increased hair loss in participants during this time.

8. Heart Disease Increases Cortisol In Your Hair

A 2010 study carried out jointly by Israeli-Canadian researchers on 112 participants found that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can be detected in hair, could be evidence of an impending heart attack. While cortisol, which is secreted by the adrenal glands, can also be detected in saliva and urine, only in hair is it stored for long periods of time and as such hair is an excellent method of measuring chronic stress levels and its links to heart disease, says the study.

9. Premature Aging Syndromes Causes Gray Hair and Hair Loss

A 2008 study carried out at University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain revealed that signs of aging such as alopecia and grey hair in younger people can be symptoms of premature ageing syndromes such as Werner syndrome and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome.

10. Medications Can Cause Balding

You might not know what medications suit your body and which donít but your hair can help. For example a 2000 study carried out at University of Louisville School of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky showed that medication-induced alopecia can result from the consumption of certain psychopharmaceuticals in patients with a reaction to them. Among the drugs mentioned in the study is lithium.

Not mentioned in the study is whether eating foods or drinking fluids with lithium also produces the same balding but there is no reason to believe that in a high enough concentration, that the results would not be the same. Bottom line--if you're experiencing hair loss, read the labels and avoid excessive lithium.

Read more about these related health conditions: What Your Handwriting Says About Your Health / What Your Fingernails Say About Your Health / Bronchitis --10 Natural Remedies / Bronchial Spasms -Causes and Cures /Why Are My Hands Tingling? -Causes and Remedies/ Tree Pollen Allergies -What to Do

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