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PARIS – A doctor raised alarm after two women were poisoned and most of their hair fell off her scalp for eating a meal with a common ingredient: bitter-tasting pumpkin.
French dermatologist Philippe Assouly warned that bitter tasting pumpkins or squashes can contain potent toxins that cause hair loss.
In a scientific journal, Assouly described two unusual cases, highlighting a previously unknown “toxic association of alopecia (hair loss) with a common plant”.
The plant family in question are cucurbits, and include squashes, gourds and pumpkins.
In the first case, a woman in France suffered nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea after eating bitter-tasting pumpkin soup. She experienced the symptoms for about a day, and a week later started losing hair from her scalp and pubis.
“The meal had been shared with her family, who had eaten less of the soup than she had, and they experienced symptoms of food poisoning but no hair loss,” Assouly wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology.
A second woman had severe vomiting after a meal that included squash. Three weeks later, her hair started falling off.
Cucurbits can contain cucurbitacin, a toxic compound that gives off a bitter taste.
“Bitterness in a squash should serve as a warning,” Assouly said. “One should not force a child to finish it.” GAD/Expat Media
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