ScienceShot: Anti-Malaria Drug Bleaches Hair

21 July 2010 5:00 pm

Jeff Donovan

Be careful the next time you try to protect yourself against malaria. In tomorrow's issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report the case of a woman who overdosed on chloroquine, a drug commonly used to fight the malaria parasite. Instead of taking the doctor recommended dose of 500 milligrams per week, she mistakenly took 500 milligrams per day, a dosage that bleached her blond hair white. The researchers say such "hypopigmentation" occurs because chloroquine poisons pigment-producing cells in hair follicles. But there's an upside: The finding could be a boon to the multibillion-dollar hair color industry, which has been searching for a pharmaceutical way to change hair color.

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