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Commercial Hair Analysis: Science or Scam?

Robert S. Waters, MD
JAMA. 1986;255(19):2604. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370190087023.
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To the Editor.—  I am very surprised to have seen the publication of such an unscientific and opinionated article as Stephen Barrett's1 appear in JAMA. For a scientist to publish only "high," "normal," and "low" values for the results of the measurement of hair minerals, when he, in fact, could have published the actual raw data in numerical form so a legitimate statistical analysis could have been performed is outrageous and borders on dishonesty. I would very much like to receive the numbers he has and subject them to a multivariate analysis to see where the variation really lies.As a physician who routinely uses hair mineral analysis as a screening tool for evaluation of toxic and essential mineral status, I am very aware that many laboratories measuring hair elements are giving spurious results and also that not all the elements are readily measurable, let alone useful, in health


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