How’s this for a headline? Chemical in McDonald’s Fries Could Cure Baldness, Study Says. Given our ‘only-read-the-headline’ culture, I wonder how many baldies are going to be clogging the drive-thru at Mickey D’s this week. Or how many emergency rooms will see an influx of burns to bald scalps from over-enthusiastic hot-fry massages.
The article, from Newsweek:
Japanese scientists may have discovered a cure for baldness – and it lies within a chemical used to make McDonald’s fries.
A stem cell research team from Yokohama National University used a “simple” method to regrow hair on mice by using dimethylpolysiloxane, the silicone added to McDonald’s fries to stop cooking oil from frothing.
Wait, back up. The silicone added to McDonald’s french fries? Silicone is basically sand. But they say it so matter of factly – ‘you know, that silicone they add to McDonalds french fries because otherwise the oil gets frothy.’ Oh yeah, that stuff. Carry on.
The article continues:
According to the study, released in the Biomaterials journal last Thursday, the breakthrough came after the scientists successfully mass-produced “hair follicle germs” (HFG) which were created for the first time ever in this way.
HFGs, cells that drive follicle development, are considered the holy grail in hair-loss research. The scientists said use of dimethylpolysiloxane was crucial to the advancement.
“The key for the mass production of HFGs was a choice of substrate materials for the culture vessel,” Professor Junji Fukuda, of Yokohama National University, said in the study. “We used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) at the bottom of culture vessel, and it worked very well.”
You hear that kids? Don’t be going and eating a ton and a half (I think that’s called ‘supersize’) of McDonald’s trans fat loaded, delicious potato like products thinking it’s going to give you the long flowing locks of Samson himself. The silicone based substance was used to culture and mass-produce hair follicle germs. The stuff itself has nothing to do with hair growth, at least not directly. And eating it is not advisable (by me, anyway).
The article then goes on to detail how they tortured mice by injecting their backs with HFGs and were able to achieve hair growth. The miracle that is modern science. Here’s a lovely pic:
I found it rather humorous that the Newsweek article ended with this:
McDonald’s did not respond to Newsweek‘s request for comment at the time of publication.
Well you don’t say. How exactly do you expect them to respond? ‘McDonald’s acknowledges the fact that a chemical ingredient in our french fries is also used to grow hair cells for transplantation on the backs of mice. We hope this fact will increase the enjoyment of our quality products for you and your family.’ They’re probably not thrilled about the fact that this is drawing attention to the chemical shitstorm that is their food. And it’s not like eating the dimethylpolysiloxane in their fries is actually going to make people start growing hair. I fail to see how the PR masterminds at McDonald’s Corp. could possibly spin this one to their benefit.
Moving back in the article, they drop this little gem:
In 2016, the U.S. hair loss treatment manufacturing industry was worth $6 billion. This included companies that produced restorative hair equipment, such as grafts for hair restoration, as well as oral and topical treatments.
Good lord what a world we live in! $6 billion! It’s no real surprise, then, that new scientific discoveries come up all the time with new ways of curing hair loss. Peeps want a piece of that $6 billion action! This is what we as a society are prioritizing, what we spend time, effort and scientific research money on. Not research into what causes cancer, autoimmunity or things that are actually making people suffer. It’s hair loss – something entirely cosmetic. Maybe that money should be redirected into finding a cure for vanity.
And to think the majority of treatments out there aren’t much better than snake oil. The lengths some people will go to seem ridiculously out of proportion to the perceived benefit, causing actual damage. But the sacrifices people will make to keep their hair are astounding. According to Statistic Brain:
- Percent of hair loss sufferers who would spend their life savings to regain a full head of hair 47 %
- Percent of hair loss sufferers who said they would rather have more hair than money or friends 60 %
- Percent of hair loss sufferers who said they would give up sex if it meant they would get their hair back 30 %
Let’s get our priorities straight, here, people! Spending your life savings for hair!? This article quotes blogger ‘Girl on the Net’ as saying: “The time, effort and worry invested in something as inconsequential as the collection of keratin strands you collect on top of your head could be much better spent in other ways. You could learn to play the piano, take up a sport, read books and newspapers – anything.” Amen sister. Literally anything.
Look, I get it. Having something creep up on you that completely alters your appearance can no-doubt be a bit of a shock. It can be embarrassing and stress-inducing. And lest you think I’m trivializing it, I’m not. Like any symptom that shows up in your life, hair loss can be a signal that something is going wrong. No amount of creams, gels, surgeries, shampoos or McDonald’s french fries are going to correct the root cause imbalance that if that is indeed what is making you lose your hair.
The main underlying mechanisms for losing hair are inflammation, autoimmunity, hormone imbalance and nutrient deficiency. Insufficient stomach acid production can lead to incomplete protein digestion – no protein, no hair. Thyroid issues and adrenal problems can both cause hormone imbalances that lead to hair loss. Prescription medications can… well they can do a whole lot of damage, the hair probably being the least important. But all these things are addressable, and more often than not, they’re addressable through diet and supplementation. The possibility of reversing hair loss by adopting an ancestral diet should be making headlines (except that it would go against the almighty dietary guidelines). Heck, just getting off the Standard American Diet might be enough to get you some headway. (You see what I did there? Headway? Get it?). And before you go and tell me that male pattern baldness is hereditary, go and do some research on epigenetics. You are not doomed to your genetic fate.
What is definitely not helping is the toxic tsunami that is health and beauty products people are buying by the bucket load. Shampoos, dyes, styling products – with the amount of harmful chemicals in these products its a wonder the entire planet hasn’t lost their hair.
The fact that chemicals used in processed foods are being used for hair regrowth is not without its irony – empty, nutrient deficient food chemical used to prop up an empty image which was likely lost from eating the processed stuff in the first place. It’s likely the top consumers lining up at McDonalds are the same ones supporting the hair-regrowth industry.
Obviously, it isn’t always the case that switching to a paleo diet is going to make you regrow your hair. Hair loss is still a bit of a mystery and there more than a few people out there who are healthy, but still suffer from hair loss. But we really have nothing to lose here. Give diet and lifestyle changes a chance and see what happens. It might end up saving you $6 billion.
Doug DiPasquale is a Holistic Nutritionist, Paleo enthusiast and health journalist living in Toronto, Canada. He’s a regular contributor for SOTT.net, Dot Connector Magazine, the Huffington Post Canada, The Food Network Canada and has contributed to many other blogs and online publications. He’s passionate about the food we eat, exposing the lies and faulty thinking of the “food police” and informing the public about how to eat real food, ie. replacing that wheatgrass shot with bacon.