Here’s a new one: According to a recent study, a chemical found in McDonald’s fries may cure baldness. More specifically, scientists were able to successfully use dimethylpolysiloxane—an anti-foaming agent commonly used to prevent the splattering of oil during the cooking of fried foods—to mass-produce “hair follicle germs,” which proceeded to grow hairs within days of being transplanted into mice.
Preliminary research suggests the same can be done in humans, too. “This simple method is very robust and promising,” researcher Junji Fukuda said in a press release. “We hope this technique will improve human hair regenerative therapy to treat hair loss such as androgenic alopecia (male-pattern baldness).”
Okay… that’s some serious sci-fi shit. But let’s be clear: This unfortunately DOES NOT mean gobbling McDonald’s fries will help your hair to grow back. In fact, that may do the opposite. “Ironically, eating processed foods—like fries from a fast food restaurant—may accelerate the development of wrinkles and hair loss,” explains nutritionist David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction. “In this preliminary study, dimethylpolysiloxane was shown to produce follicles that could grow hair when transplanted into mice; however, the chemical was only used as a base to grow the follicles—it doesn’t trigger hair growth on its own.”
Which begs the question: What does consuming dimethylpolysiloxane do to us? There’s a serious lack of scientific research on the topic, but the FDA lists the ingredient as “a substance generally recognized as safe in food” in this not-at-all-sketchy statement:
The quantity of any substance employed in the formulation of defoaming agents does not exceed the amount reasonably required to accomplish the intended physical or technical effect in the defoaming agents or any limitation further provided.
How much dimethylpolysiloxane McDonald’s actually adds to their oil before frying remains unclear (it isn’t even listed as an ingredient in their fries), meaning a few large orders of fries could conceivably contain more than the “approved level” of this ingredient. Which is why, despite the FDA’s nod of approval, Friedman recommends avoiding the ingredient if possible: “If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you probably shouldn’t eat it,” he emphasizes. “Dimethylpolysiloxane is also used as an inactive ingredient in over-the-counter drugs, lotions and hygiene products, as well as in nail polish, makeup, sunscreen, deodorant and shampoo. Does that sound appetizing?”
It shouldn’t, especially considering how many unpronounceable ingredients McDonald’s stuffs into their Big Mac, too.