Perils of Microwave Popcorn

This story from the NY Times really blew me away – a guy who was a two-bag-a-day consumer of microwave popcorn developed “popcorn worker lung,” an inflammatory condition that was leaving him short of breath. Apparently diacetyl, the buttery flavor agent used on microwave popcorn, is likely the culprit. From the article:

“We’re incredibly interested in learning more about this case. However, we are confident that our product is safe for consumers’ normal everyday use in the home,” said Stephanie Childs, a spokeswoman for ConAgra Foods, the nation’s largest maker of microwave popcorn.

Ms. Childs said ConAgra planned to remove diacetyl from its microwave popcorn products “in the near future.”

Pop Weaver, another large microwave popcorn producer, has already taken diacetyl out of its popcorn bags “because of consumer concerns” but not because the company believes the chemical is unsafe for consumers, said Cathy Yingling, a company spokeswoman.

If the flavoring is scarring lung tissue, just imagine what it could be doing to your body when you are eating it.

Everything that you eat becomes your body – your blood, your bones, your tissues, your hair, your skin, your nails. If you are eating garbage, what do you think is going to happen to your body?

The microwave popcorn guy was ordered by his doctor to stop his habit – he was upset, but he complied. The result?

Six months later, the man has lost 50 pounds and his lung function has not only stopped deteriorating but has actually improved slightly, Dr. Rose said.

Fifty pounds, and the only change he made was cutting out the popcorn. And his lungs got better, too.


2 responses to “Perils of Microwave Popcorn

  1. I think the overarching lesson here is: moderation, people! What is wrong with that guy that his Butter Lover microwave popcorn consumption was so copious that it caused him to gain 50 pounds? Gross. Almost anything in that sort of quantity will make bad things happen. (Even too many carrots for too long will start turning your skin orange.)

    Moderation, moderation, moderation.

  2. Agreed. The problem is that people don’t know what “moderation” means. It’s size and frequency, but it’s different for different foods. For example, eating cake in moderation (e.g., 1x per month, 1/12 of a slice of a round cake) is really different from eating chicken in moderation (e.g., 1-2 x per week, 3 oz at a time).

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