Microwave Popcorn Chemical Tied to Alzheimer’s Risk

by Chris Curley on August 9, 2012

Chronic exposure to a chemical used to make the buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, UPI reported Aug. 8.

The compound, called diecetyl, appears to mimic the behavior of substances that make beta-amyloid proteins join together, forming the so-called “amyloid plaques” that are a major predictor of Alzheimer’s, researchers from the University of Minnesota say.

Diecyetl also easily traverses the “blood-brain barrier” and enhances the toxicity of beta-amyloid, says study co-author Robert Vince, Ph.D.

While researchers only looked at the effects of occupational levels of exposure to diecetyl – like those experienced by workers at a factory where microwave popcorn and other diecetyl-containing foods are made – the findings should give you pause before you dip into your next big bag of butter-flavored popcorn. Other compounds in microwave popcorn may also weaken the effectiveness of certain vaccines, an earlier study showed.

The study appears online in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

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