Don’t eat bitter pumpkin, study warns after women lose hair

Bitter-tasting pumpkins and squashes can contain potent toxins, doctors say. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 May 2018

Don’t eat bitter pumpkin, study warns after women lose hair

PARIS: A doctor warned Friday that bitter-tasting pumpkins and squashes can contain potent toxins, after two women were poisoned by their dinners and lost most of their hair.
French dermatologist Philippe Assouly described the two unusual cases in a scientific journal, 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 diarrhea, which started soon after she ate a bitter-tasting pumpkin soup.
The symptoms lasted for about a day. Then a week later, she 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 experienced food poisoning with severe vomiting after a meal that included squash. Other diners had skipped the squash because it tasted bitter.
“About three weeks later, the patient experienced substantial hair loss on her head as well as severe alopecia on the armpits and pubic region,” the doctor said.
Cucurbits can contain cucurbitacin, a toxic compound that gives off a bitter taste.
The bitterness is bred out of domesticated cucurbits. But sometimes insects moving from one field to another cross-pollinate a cultivated plant with a wild or ornamental one.
“Bitterness in a squash should serve as a warning,” Assouly told AFP. “One should not force a child to finish it.”
Three years ago, a German died of cucurbitacin poisoning after eating a courgette stew, the doctor said.
These are the first known cases of hair loss due to cucurbit poisoning.


K-Pop’s BTS breaks viewership record for Tiny Desk concert

Updated 22 September 2020

K-Pop’s BTS breaks viewership record for Tiny Desk concert

DUBAI: K-Pop band BTS performed a Tiny Desk concert this week — and once again broke a world record.

Their performance was the most viewed on the well-known YouTube series on its first day, which happened in about 25 minutes. 

Hosted by NPR Music, Tiny Desk Concerts are a video series of live performances that have been around since 2008. They have featured some of the world’s most famous stars including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Billie Ellis and more. 

The award-winning seven-member group kicked off the virtual show with their most recent hit “Dynamite,” and fans have been going wild on Twitter.

“Can we talk about Jungkook’s perfect high note at ‘Dynamite?’ The vocals!” wrote one excited user. 

“‘Dynamite’ with a live band (is) everything,” wrote another fan.