Cortisol in hair, body mass index and stress-related measures

Biol Psychol. 2012 Jul;90(3):218-23. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.03.010. Epub 2012 Mar 28.


Hair cortisol concentrations (HCC) are assumed to reflect integrated cortisol secretion over extended periods of time and may provide a sensitive marker for stress-associated endocrine changes. Here, we report data from two independent studies of 155 (study I) and 58 participants (study II) in which HCC associations with different stress-related measures and body mass index (BMI) were investigated. Consistent evidence for positive associations between HCC and BMI was seen across both studies (study I: r=.33, p<.001; study II: r=.42, p=.001). On the other hand, findings failed to reveal reliable HCC associations with psychosocial variables, showing only a positive relationship with self-reported social overload in study II (r=.29, p=.03) but not with other stress-related measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Hair / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone