Photo/IllutrationThe Asahi Shimbun

An analysis of the shape and components of human hair can help detect diseases and determine overall health, a research institute and companies said.

Eighteen organizations and companies, including the Riken research institute, wigmaker Aderans Co. and search engine provider Yahoo Japan Corp., said they will collect data on the hair of 10,000 individuals in two years to create a “hair health information” database.

Human hair grows 1 centimeter per month and consists of minerals, proteins, pigments and other components. The chemical composition slightly differs depending on the person’s health and other factors.

That means 12 cm of hair reflects health conditions for an entire year, so an analysis of the hair could prove useful in finding signs of diseases and other health problems, they said.

As a first step, they will sample hair from hundreds of individuals to develop an accurate analyzing technique of the components. They will then study the people’s diets, lifestyles and other topics through questionnaires to develop indicators of diseases and other health conditions.

After those processes, a database will be built based on analyses of hair samples collected from 10,000 people.

Under the plan, the organizations and companies will commercialize a hair-based diagnosis method through cooperation with medical centers.