Study suggests a chemical found in McDonald’s fries could cure baldness. Is it true?
This could inspire you to supersize your next McDonald’s order if you have thinning hair.
A recent study out of Japan’s Yokohama National University has found that a chemical used in the making of McDonald’s fries is linked to hair regrowth. Scientists believe this could provide a major breakthrough in finding a cure for baldness.
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Researchers isolated the chemical dimethylpolysiloxane — which is used in restaurants like McDonald’s to prevent oil from boiling over — and used it in a culture vessel that was injected into mice. Within a few days, black hair sprouted from the areas where the mice had been injected.
“This simple method is very robust and promising,” study author Junji Fukuda said in a statement. “We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia. In fact, we have preliminary data that suggests human HFG [hair follicle germs] formation using human keratinocytes and dermal papilla cells.”
But before McDonald’s locations across the country are overrun with balding pates, Dr. Jeff Donovan, a Vancouver-based dermatologist and president of the Canadian Hair Loss Foundation, says the research has been grossly misinterpreted.
“The chemical is an ingredient that was used to cover these specific tissue culture plates that were used in the laboratory,” he says. “Ingesting it is unlikely to help.”
He says dimethylpolysiloxane works well because it allows oxygen to reach the cells that grow on the tissue culture plates, but there’s no benefit from consuming fries (or any other food) cooked in oil that contains the chemical.
This, however, is a promising development in the field of hair growth, which Donovan says has been gaining steam in recent years.
“In the last few years, there’s been increased interest in cell-based therapies. Right now, the most popular treatment uses platelet-rich plasma, where we take patients’ blood, spin it down to get the plasma and then inject it back into the scalp,” he says.
“But if we can somehow grow cells in a lab from harvesting a few hairs from a patient and turn it into millions of cells that we inject back into the scalp to actually grow hair, it would be the ultimate treatment for thinning hair.”
While he estimates that the market is still a decade away from seeing this treatment put into practice, he doesn’t believe that anyone who is bald now (or has been for a while) wouldn’t be able to benefit from it.
“Even individuals with advanced balding retain some hair, usually at the back of the head. If we can take even one hair, it’s possible to grow up millions of cells in a laboratory and invite the patient back in to have them injected,” he says. “If it works, then even if they’re very bald, those hairs should grow very well.”
Donovan points out that this development is promising not only for those who suffer from genetic balding, commonly referred to as male pattern baldness (although it can affect both men and women), but also those who suffer from autoimmune conditions like alopecia and chemotherapy-related hair loss.
“This would open the door to all types of treatments,” he says. “It’s very exciting.”
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