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Commercial Hair Analysis: Science or Scam?

George Hickok
JAMA. 1986;255(19):2603-2604. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370190087022.
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To the Editor.—  The publication of the recent article entitled "Commercial Hair Analysis: Science or Scam?" by Dr Stephen Barrett1 surely constitutes a new low for JAMA. Space does not permit a point by point critique, but a few comments should be mentioned: Barrett ignores the literature published since 1974 showing that laboratories have learned how to manage or use to their advantage each of the seven items listed as problems.2 In fact, laboratories for commercial hair analysis in existence in 1974 had overcome these problems at that time.Sixty percent of the business of Doctor's Data Inc, the oldest and largest laboratory for hair analysis, comes from physicians—many board certified in their specialty!Barrett infers that there is great discrepancy when two results from the same laboratory vary between normal and high, or normal and low. He does not explain that this can be by only one


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