Recently, articles have circulated on the internet claiming that McDonald’s beloved French fries hold the secret to curing baldness. As much as we hate to be the bearer of bad news, this assertion is, sadly, not true. But that doesn’t mean the scientists behind the much-publicized paper haven’t discovered something just as important! Here’s what the results of the study actually mean.
Published in the online journal Biomaterials, the study in question looked at ways in which large quantities of hair follicle germs — the source of hair follicles — could be grown. People suffering from hair loss currently have two options: drugs and surgical transplants. When it comes to transplants, doctors usually move existing hair to other parts of the body rather than implant new hair follicles.
“The drugs available work reasonably well at maintaining the hair you have,” Angela Christiano, PhD, told NPR in 2013. “And with transplantation, you can move hair around the head, like from front to back. But neither [method] is known for being a way to actually grow new hair.”
What this new study found was a suitable way to grow new hair follicles in a lab on a large scale, which is just another step toward curing baldness. So what do McDonald’s French fries have to do with this? To grow the hair follicles, researchers needed to create a container that would let in enough oxygen for the follicles. The breakthrough came when they used oxygen-permeable dimethylpolysiloxane (PDMS) — an ingredient McDonald’s uses in its French fries as an anti-foaming agent, according to its website.
So really, the only connection here is that dimethylpolysiloxane is used both by McDonald’s and the scientists conducting the aforementioned study — that’s it! Though researchers successfully transplanted hair follicles onto the bare backs of mice that then acted like typical mouse and rodent hair, it’s a huge leap in logic to say that eating French fries that have come in contact with dimethylpolysiloxane will somehow cure baldness.
In response to the way the study’s results have been misinterpreted, Junji Fukuda, one of the study’s authors and a professor at Yokohama National University in Japan, told The Japan Times “I have seen online comments asking, ‘How many fries would I have to eat to grow my hair?’ I’d feel bad if people think eating something would do that!” So go ahead and enjoy those crispy, crunchy fries — but don’t throw out that Rogaine any time soon.
Another thing to keep in mind is that scientists conducted this research on mice, which means a human version won’t be available just yet. That said, Fukuda believes the results are encouraging. “This simple method is very robust and promising. We hope that this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia,” he said. We’ll keep our fingers crossed!
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