The Truth About Microwave Popcorn Causing Cancer

Source – The Guardian

Popcorn is an essential component of the movie-going experience. You don’t have to go to the movies to enjoy a bucket of popcorn. Place a bag in the microwave for about a minute to allow the fluffy buds to expand.

The Truth About Microwave Popcorn Causing Cancer

Popcorn is an essential component of the movie-going experience. You don’t have to go to the movies to enjoy a bucket of popcorn. Place a bag in the microwave for about a minute to allow the fluffy buds to expand.

Popcorn is also rich in fibre and low in fat.

However, some of the chemicals included in microwave popcorn and its packaging have been associated with several adverse health consequences such as cancer and a deadly lung condition.

What is the connection between microwave popcorn and cancer?

Continue reading to find out the truth about microwave popcorn and your health.

Source - Live Science

Is Microwave Popcorn Carcinogenic?

The suspected relationship between microwave popcorn and cancer stems not from the popcorn itself, but from chemicals in the bags known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). PFCs are grease-resistant, which makes them perfect for preventing oil from leaking through popcorn bags.

PFCs have also been used in the following applications:

  • pizza boxes
  • sandwich wrappers
  • Teflon pans
  • other types of food packaging

The problem with PFCs is that they degrade into perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a substance that has been linked to cancer.

When you microwave the popcorn, these chemicals find their way into it. When you consume popcorn, it enters your bloodstream and may stay there for a long time.

PFCs have been used so extensively that over 98 percent of Americans carry this substance in their blood. As a result, health experts have been attempting to determine if PFCs are linked to cancer or other conditions.

To determine how these chemicals could impact individuals, the C8 Science Panel evaluated the effects of PFOA exposure on citizens living near DuPont’s Washington Works manufacturing site in West Virginia.

Since the 1950s, the facility has been dumping PFOA into the environment.

Following many years of study, the C8 researchers connected PFOA exposure to a wide range of human health issues, including kidney cancer and testicular cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States performed its own research into PFOA from a multitude of sources, particularly microwave popcorn bags and nonstick food pans. Microwave popcorn was shown to be responsible for more than 20% of the usual PFOA levels in American blood.

As an outcome of the study, food producers discontinued the use of PFOA in their product bags voluntarily in 2011. Five years later, the FDA went even farther, prohibiting the use of three more PFCs in food packaging. This implies that the popcorn you purchase today should be free of these chemicals.

However, hundreds of additional packaging chemicals have been launched after the FDA’s evaluation. The Environmental Working Group claims that little is known about the safety of these substances.

Relations Of Microwave Popcorn To Other Health Issues

Microwave popcorn has also been related to a dangerous lung disease known as popcorn lung. When ingested in significant quantities, diacetyl, a chemical used to give microwave popcorn its buttery flavour and scent, has been linked to severe and irreparable lung damage.

Popcorn lung scars and narrows the tiny airways in the lungs (bronchioles) to the point that they can’t take in enough air. Shortness of breath, wheezing, and other symptoms similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are caused by the disease (COPD).

Employees at microwave popcorn factories or other manufacturing plants who inhaled substantial doses of diacetyl for extended periods of time were at high risk of developing popcorn lung two decades ago. Hundreds of employees were diagnosed with this condition, and many of them died as a result.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health explored the role of diacetyl exposure at six microwave popcorn manufacturing factories. The studies revealed a correlation between long-term exposure and lung disease.

Popcorn lung was not seen as a concern to microwave popcorn consumers. However, one Colorado man is said to have acquired the condition after consuming two bags of microwave popcorn every day for ten years.

Diacetyl was eliminated from major popcorn makers’ products in 2007.

Lowering The Risks

In recent years, chemicals related to cancer and popcorn lung have been eliminated from microwave popcorn. Even though some of the chemicals that remain in the packaging of these products are problematic, consuming microwave popcorn on occasion should cause no health problems.

But if you’re still concerned or eat a lot of popcorn, there’s no reason to stop eating it as a snack.

Explore Air-Popped Popcorn

Invest in an air popper, such as this one, and cook your own movie-theatre popcorn. Three cups of air-popped popcorn have 90 calories and less than one gramme of fat.

Make Stovetop Popcorn

Using a covered saucepan and some olive, coconut, or avocado oil, make popcorn on the stovetop. For every half cup of popcorn kernels, use around 2 teaspoons of oil.

Put Your Preferred Flavours In 

By adding your own toppings, you can enhance the flavour of air-popped or stovetop popcorn without using possibly dangerous chemicals or excessive salt. Use olive oil or freshly grated Parmesan cheese to coat it. Experiment with other ingredients like cinnamon, oregano, and rosemary.

The Bottom Line

Two chemicals formerly found in microwave popcorn and its packaging have been known to cause cancer and respiratory problems. However, these chemicals have now been removed from the majority of commercial products.

If you’re still worried about the chemicals in microwave popcorn, prepare your own using a stove or an air popper at home.


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