Popcorn fumes cause cancer: study
Chemicals used in flavouring microwave popcorn may have caused the first case of "popcorn lung" (lung cancer from chemical fumes related to microwave popcorn production) in a consumer. The disease is already prominent in workers at factories which produce microwave popcorn, but this is the first case in a regular citizen. But before you toss your packs of Orville Redenbachers, keep this in mind: The diagnosed man ate popcorn "several times a day for years."
But then, consider this: The offending chemical is likely diacetyl, which, according to Wikipedia is "harmful and flammable."
The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has suggested that diacetyl, when used in artificial butter flavoring (as used in microwave popcorn or butter salt), may be hazardous when heated and inhaled over a long period.
Workers in several factories that manufacture artificial butter flavoring have been diagnosed with bronchiolitis obliterans, a rare and serious disease of the lungs. The cases found have been mainly in young, healthy, non-smoking males. There are no known cures for bronchiolitis obliterans except for lung transplantation.
The July letter, made public by a public health policy blog, refers to a potentially fatal disease commonly called popcorn lung that has been the subject of lawsuits by hundreds of workers at food factories exposed to chemicals used for flavoring.
In response to Rose's finding, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association issued a statement Tuesday recommending that its members reduce "to the extent possible" the amount of diacetyl in butter flavorings they make. It noted that diacetyl is approved for use in flavors by the federal Food and Drug Administration.