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It doesn’t get much easier: you pull a few hairs out of your head and send them to the lab. One month later, the analysis gives you an accurate ‘body diary’ of the last 90 days before the test. Depending on the focus, the user gains insight into things like nutrient levels, the use of (hard) drugs, toxic substances, leaking breast implants, or nicotine. The hair test, developed by the Maastricht start-up Hair Diagnostix, is now available.

The tests cost around €330 and the makers claim that although they are not medically diagnostic, they do yield ‘scientifically proven results’. “Through your hair, we can give you, in a non-invasive way, insight into what is going on in your body.” Hair Diagnostix is a daughter of Dutch Screening Group and part of Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus.

Leaking breast implants

One example of the use of the test is with breast implants. In order to test whether they leak, the hairs are checked for the presence of platinum. “Platinum, as an aid in the production of silicone gel, remains present in the implants. As soon as an implant starts leaking, platinum is also released and this can be detected in the hair. Leaking or ‘sweating’ implants can cause all kinds of unwanted substances to enter the bloodstream, which can lead to a complex clinical picture.”

In a sample report (pdf), Hair Diagnostix shows how the method works. It also contains a nuance about the reliability: “The report should not be seen as a medical diagnostic but as the result of a scientific application that provides additional information. The information from this report should, therefore, only be used in conjunction with other laboratory tests, medically relevant historical data, physical examinations, and the clinical expertise of a doctor or medical specialist.”

Hair growth

The 90-day diary is based on the assumption that a hair on a person’s head grows an average of one centimeter per month. In this way, the presence of examined substances (such as platinum) at a certain position on the hair can give an indication of when this substance entered the body. But, as the developers say, “it is important to recognize that external factors can also affect hair growth, as well as the absorption and incorporation of elements into the hair.”