Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Stanley K. Derby

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access



In the academic year 1959-1960 the National Science Foundation supported an undergraduate research program at Western: Michigan University for the spectrographic analysis of human hair. This preliminary work concerned itself with determining the quantities of magnesium, iron, and calcium in human hair. The hair samples were taken from a supposedly normal cross section of people. This group consisted of 41 women and 52 men. The ages varied from 2 to 72. Most of the hair samples were collected from a local barber shop and beauty shop, although a small portion of the samples was collected from individuals. Information concerning the individual ts sex, age and race were recorded along with the color of the hair, for each sample received.

The analysis of the samples revealed nothing unique or distinctive concerning the quantities of calcium and iron. With few exceptions, however, the magnesium content of the samples for the men was lower than for the women. This disparity in magnesium content appeared to increase after age 50. In searching for possible explanations for the magnesium data, attention focused on the inequality of heart ailments in men and women. Arteriosclerosis in particular is thought to be related to the elements magnesium and calcium.1

This is a report of the research which was undertaken to investigate a possible correlation between coronary ailments and the metallic content of human hair.

Included in

Cardiology Commons