If your pumpkin tastes more bitter than usual, you should probably stop eating it. Abandon soup, put down your pie, refuse that risotto: or you may pay a dear price.
Two women have suffered hair loss after eating (usually-trustworthy) meals containing pumpkin and squash. Described in JAMA Dermatology, the two women first experienced severe nausea and diarrhea, before losing their hair a few weeks later.
The first woman experienced food poisoning hours after eating a bitter-tasting soup. This lasted about a day.
Just over a week later, her hair started falling out in clumps, affecting a large area of her scalp and her pubic area. She also suffered from trichorrhexis nodosa, where the hair becomes brittle and breaks easily.
Her family, who had also eaten the soup, experienced food poisoning too. However, they experienced no hair loss as they had eaten less of it.
In the second case, a woman became ill and suffered hair loss after eating a meal at a dinner party containing an oddly bitter squash. Possibly the politest of the guests, she ate the whole of her meal including the squash, whereas the other guests avoided the squash entirely. Shortly afterward, vomiting and diarrhea began with gusto, and three weeks later she lost hair on her head, pubic region, and armpits, according to Medical Xpress.
"Bitterness in a squash should serve as a warning," Dr Philippe Assouly, author of the study, told AFP. "One should not force a child to finish it."
Effects of eating bitter cucurbits (a family of plants that includes pumpkins, squashes, zucchini, and watermelons) can be deadly. Three years ago, a child died of poisoning after eating a suspect zucchini stew.
Cucurbits sometimes contain cucurbitacin, a toxic substance that gives off a bitter taste. It's bred out of commercial crops, but can occasionally make its way back into a crop through cross-pollination with a wild plant, Newsweek reports.
In both cases, the lost hair eventually regrew. However, if you'd like to avoid short-term alopecia and horrendous diarrhea, we'd recommend you stop eating squashes and pumpkins that taste bitter, no matter how polite you are trying to be at a dinner party.