This seems like a good potential way to monitor over the long term how much stress your body is / has encountered, is encountering, and a relative risk measure. Not sure how much it tracks with systemic inflammation, but seems like it might at some level. It seems that it also relates to sleep quality, and many other measures that are important. It seems some clinics are starting to offer this type of testing.
Higher hair cortisol concentrations associated with shorter leukocyte telomere length in high-risk young adults
Chronic stress is associated with accelerated biological aging as indexed by short age-adjusted leukocyte telomere length (LTL). Exploring links of biological stress responses with LTL has proved challenging due to the lack of biological measures of chronic psychological stress. Hair cortisol concentration (HCC) has emerged as a measure of chronic hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis activation, allowing the examination of relationships between aggregate cortisol concentrations over time and LTL. Our sample includes 92 participants (38% women, Mage = 26 ± 3.7 years) from a high-risk sample of young adults with previous residential care placements. Two cm hair was collected for HCC, reflecting approximately eight weeks of cortisol secretion. LTL was measured with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) in whole blood samples. All samples for LTL were run in triplicate and assayed twice. Linear and polynomial regression models were used to describe the association between HCC and LTL, adjusting for age and sex. HCC and LTL showed negative associations (std. ß = − 0.67, 95% CI [− 0.83, − 0.52], p < .001) in age- and sex-adjusted analyses, indicating that higher HCCs are associated with shorter LTL. Using polynomial regression, we found a curvilinear relationship indicating a stronger negative association at lower cortisol concentrations. Higher HCCs were associated with shorter LTL, supporting the hypothesized involvement of prolonged cortisol secretion in telomere attrition. Thus, HCC may prove useful as a biological indicator of chronic stress associated with aging-related processes in samples exposed to high levels of stress.