Do You Like Popcorn?

Diacetyl, a flavoring used to produce the buttery flavor and smell of microwave popcorn, and other food, may be linked to Alzheimer’s, U.S. researchers say.

The reason this chemical was being looked at was because of the increased rate of respiratory issues at plants that utilize the flavoring that diacetyl can be found in. “In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to diacetyl, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by diacetyl,” the researchers said in a statement.

The realization that diacetyl may cause neurological issues happened when researchers recognized the molecular structure of diacetyl resembled a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain, which was later confirmed in their lab testing. Other laboratory experiments also showed diacetyl easily penetrated the “blood-brain barrier,” which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain, Robert Vince, director of the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota, said.

In addition to microwave popcorn, diacetyl is used in margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products such as beer or some chardonnay wine.

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