They have had big success with mice.

There is no getting around the fact that fast food is extremely unhealthy. With an abundance of chemicals impossible to pronounce and lack of real ‘food’ ingredients, it is admittedly better left to the occasional treat.

Unfortunately for fast food consumers, Japanese research just revealed interesting data regarding chemicals in major fast food chains, most notably McDonald’s french fries. The fried snack is reportedly cooked in fry oil containing a chemical called dimethylpolysiloxane, or PDMS, which prevents oil from splashing, caking, or foaming That same chemical has recently been attributed to the successful “mass produce” of hair growth in mice, however, it still comes with potential health risks.

Americans with a fast food habit are excited about the scientific development, making jokes that the discovery has given them more of an excuse to indulge in foods which may “cure baldness.”

However, the chemical PDMS does not make hair regrow by ingesting it, and in Japan, it required very specific trials to successfully prove its effectiveness in hair regrowth.

 

At the Yokohama National University, scientists led by Professor Junji Fukuda created a “simple method” of regrowing hair by artificially creating hair follicle germ cells, or HFGs, using PDMS as a substrate chemical to coat culture vessels with.

Once HFGS developed, they were transferred onto “the backs of mice,” where hair successfully regrew on its own in most trials. Scientists were pleased with the results and are optimistic that it will also work in humans.

While PDMS was used in a laboratory setting and still has no nutritional value, some consumers are making humor out of the latest discovery, now claiming an additional reason to eat fast food.

This is not advised, as PDMS has many other uses, none of which translate to substances fit for human consumption. Dimethylpolysiloxane is a type of silicon also found in silly putty, contact lenses, hair products, caulks, and “heat transfer fluids.” It was once used as an ingredient in breast implants, however, was recently determined unsafe to be implanted in the body.

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration insists that PDMS is perfectly safe in small amounts, however that does not take into consideration the mass quantities of fast food products that many citizens consume.

Even more concerning, PDMS has not been studied to determine risk from consumption, however, it is known to “degrade into compounds that include formaldehyde” upon reaching high temperatures.

It also is more commonly found in American foods than at international restaurants.

The recent finding of the chemical being found primarily in fried foods has sparked attention about McDonald’s french fries, but that is far from the extent that PDMS reaches in including itself in the average diet.

Dimethylpolysiloxane is also found in food from chains such as Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Domino’s, Burger King, and most other major food chains. It is said to be used as a “cheap butter substitute,” often hidden under the ingredient name ‘Phase Oil,’ which allows establishments “to cut corners and cut costs” at the risk of consumer health.

The mystery ingredient is also often found in fountain drinks at fast food restaurants as well, but not in “canned beverages.”

Once more fast food diners learn of the potentially harmful chemical in their favorite foods, it may result in them pressuring fast food chains to omit the ingredient, similar to what happened with the “yoga mat chemical” attributed to Subway bread.

Like the PDMS news, sources linked the chemical to only occurring in one chain’s food, however, it was found in many others. Azodicarbonamide was an ingredient in bread at many restaurants including Chick-fil-A and Jack in the Box, however, Subway received the most publicity and pressure to stop putting an artificial ingredient in its bread which was also used in making yoga mats.

In 2014, Subway changed its recipe to remove the chemical from its ingredient list, and other fast food chains likely did so silently, most of them keeping quiet about ever having used the chemical at all.

The news about PDMS being used to regrow hair is both positive and negative. Scientists have long been stumped about how to regrow hair artificially, making this a breakthrough for the medical and cosmetic fields.

However, it is equally disturbing that the same chemical has been consumed for decades by unknowing Americas, without research ever done on it to determine its safety.

Especially considering that in the scientific trials it is used topically and in small amounts, consumers have a legitimate reason to be concerned about consuming a hair regrowth chemical.