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Popcorn Lung is a nickname for a variety of lung diseases, most seriously, bronchiolitis obliterans, contracted by industrial workers at food flavoring factories.
In 2004, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) received reports of a worker who had severe scarring in their lungs and bronchial tubes rendering him incapaciated. This worker had handled pure forms of the flavoring diacetyl, a volatile chemical component of butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn, hence the name, “Popcorn Lung.”
Other lung conditions reported by workers are asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic bronchiolitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and severe lung impairment. Yuck!
Wow, am I at risk?
Now, many of us love the smell of popping corn. Is that true for you?
And, many of us find it convenient to pop a bag of microwave popcorn. Do you ever do that?
But are you at risk for developing these severe diseases from smelling microwaved popcorn?
The CDC reported this past April, Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2007 Apr 27;56(16):389-93., “Food flavorings are designated "generally recognized as safe" when approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; flavorings are not known to put consumers at risk for lung disease.”
And, other scientific publications seem to agree.
So, we’re off the hook, right?
Well, I can’t promise you’re safe either.
Just like dryer sheets (you can read my April 20, 2006 article about dryer sheets, Ants in Your Pants? on the right side of this page), we don’t know the long-termed implications of breathing in the these heated, volatile chemicals on a consistent basis. And, if you, or someone you know, is particularly prone to allergies or asthma, they might want reconsider using this type of processed food.
So what do you think?
Do you think you might avoid microwave popcorn? Do you avoid other stuff? What have you heard? Leave a comment! It's much more fun when there are other opinions out there!
Meanwhile, I found a couple of good popcorn ideas for you from Belly Bytes- a nutrition website. It's a riot to look through!
Belly Bites claims that these are “healthy popcorn recipes” but many of the recipes start with microwave popcorn that’s loaded with fat, and volatile chemicals, then add sugar, corn syrup, and even butter! WHAT”S HEALTHY ABOUT THAT?
Here’s an example of how a recipe can be modified to actually become healthy.
In large bowl, toss together 3 cups air-popped popcorn, dried applies, dried cranberries, raisins and walnuts. Coat with a little canola oil spray to moisten and mix again.
In small bowl combine 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp pumpkin spice and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Add to popcorn mixture and toss until popcorn is coated.
You may also want to try:
Pizza Flavored Popcorn or Dilly Lemon Munch
And safe popping!