The artificial butter flavoring diacetyl has been linked not only to deaths of workers handling the chemical, but also to serious lung disease in consumers of microwave popcorn.
Images thanks to Jeffry B via Flickr, Hermann Rex and the US Army via Wikimedia Commons and thanks to Ellen Reid and Minh Nguyen for their keynote help.
The poison gas phosgene, first used extensively as a chemical warfare agent during World War I, can cause a horrific lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans in which your small airways are essentially obliterated, a generally irreversible, fatal condition that may also be caused by butter-flavored microwave popcorn.
I've warned previously about diacetyl, the artificial butter flavor being linked to a condition known as “popcorn lung” in workers who had been exposed to it and started dying from it. It turns out the industry knew about the dangers for decades but covered it up. Even when workers started dying, they swore the chemical was safe for consumers, that it was only an occupational health hazard. In fact, they even had ads with Orville Redenbacher telling consumers to breathe deeply, but I quipped in my last video that any ingredient requiring the use of a gas mask is probably not something you want to feed your family. I wanted to err on the side of caution, and I'm glad I did.
Here’s a quick series of cases of consumers of butter-flavored microwave popcorn developing bronchiolitis obliterans. 47-year-old woman who consumed 3-5 bags a day and now can't even walk without getting out of breath. She's awaiting a lung transplant.
56-year-old man, another lifelong nonsmoker, but ate 2-3 bags a day before he started to cough up blood. His doctor alerted the FDA, but it’s still on the market.
A third, 1-2 bags a day and sheended up with lungs so scarred they had what's called honeycombing and patches with the appearance of ground glass.
The chemical is found in real butter, too, but it’s heavily concentrated when added as additional flavoring, and remains on store shelves and legal to this day. The regulation of health hazards from food additives has simply “fallen between the regulatory and health surveillance cracks." They recommend a series of steps to protect consumers, such as allowing the bag to cool completely before opening (but who wants cold popcorn?) and then opening in a well-ventilated area away from the face. One solution they didn't mention that would also eliminate the risk of lung disease? Don't buy it.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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My previous video on the topic is Is Artificial Butter Flavor Harmful?
What else can we do to protect our lungs?
Anyone have any good recipes for making air-popped popcorn delicious? I spritz with some apple cider vinegar and sprinkle on chlorella and nutritional yeast.
For more context, check out my associated blog post: Avoid Butter-Flavored Microwave Popcorn.
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