Study of the Age and Sex Dependence of Trace Elements in Hair by Correspondence Analysis

The aim of the study was to examine the potential of multidimensional analysis, and in particular of correspondence analysis (CA), in bringing to light the influence of sex and age on trace element (TE) concentrations in hair from an unselected French population. Sixteen elements (S, Hg, Se, Zn, Pb, Cd, Ni, Co, Mn, Fe, Cr, Mg, A1, Ca, Cu, Ag) were assayed by inductively coupled argon plasma (ICAP) emission spectroscopy in the scalp hair of 135 men and 346 women. In spite of the high background noise, CA was able to reveal the differing patterns in males and females. For instance, in this population, higher relative levels of the essential elements, Ca, Mg, Zn, and Cu, but also of Ag, characterized women's hair, whereas higher relative levels of the heavy metals, Fe and Pb, were associated with men's hair. A1 and Ag were unexplainedly high in the hair of the youngest members of the population. The Cu and Co of youth seemed to give way to a predominance of Zn in maturity. The hair of individuals in their forties tended to be richest in Ca and Mg, but these elements decreased with advancing age. Heavy metals (Hg, Pb, Fe) accumulated with age, whereas Se, Mn, and Cr seemed independent of age. CA is manifestly a very useful tool for revealing underlying dimensions in complex dynamic systems and unsuspected relationships among variables. Clearly, the significance of the high A1 and Ag contents in the hair of certain members of the population, especially of the very young, needs to be investigated from both physiological and toxicological aspects.

Valerie Zakrgynska-Fontaine, Jean-Christoph Dore, Titu Ojasoo, Francoise Poirer-Duchene, and Claude Viel (Biological Trace Element Research, Vol. 61, 1998)