07 September 2007

Popcorn is a killer?

Microwave popcorn is a tasty snack but it is potentially lethal. The threat does not from choking or anaphylaxis but from an incurable condition known as popcorn workers' lung.

It was the love of microwave buttered popcorn that caused a relatively healthy 53-year-old American to develop severe breathing problems. The cause of his illness was tracked down to the microwave popcorn he loved so much that he would inhale steam from the bag as it came out of the oven. The link between the man's illness and popcorn was established by Dr Cecil Rose, who had been dealing with popcorn workers' lung for years as a consultant to the food industry. "I said to him this is a very weird question but bear with me, are you around a lot of popcorn? His jaw dropped,' she told The New York Times, 'How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr Popcorn. I love popcorn'," the patient replied. He had eaten buttery microwave popcorn at least twice a day for the past 10 years. When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much," Dr Rose said. Dr Rose found levels of diacetyl in the man's home after he made the snack were similar to those in microwave popcorn plants. She put him on a microwave popcorn-free diet. Six months after his diagnosis, the man has lost 50lb and his lung function has improved.

The popped kernels are not the problem; the cause of the condition is a chemical called diacetyl which is used as the butter flavouring. In high levels it is known to cause Popcorn workers lung (because of its prevalence among workers in the food industry) or more, properly, Bronchiolitis obliterans. The condition causes inflammation then destruction of the bronchioles. This results in severe shortness of breath and dry cough. Lung capacity is reduced by about 75%.

15 comments:

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Never serve microwave popcorn to a gathering of coal miners. The Black Lung will fight it out with the Popcorn Lung!

You should also never play Aqualung at such gathering......

frolix22 said...

"Sitting on the park bench... eating popcorn to his heart's content... POPCORN LUNG"

Who would have thought it.

frolix22 said...

Actually, and this is strange. I first visited this blog last year after a random google search regarding Bob Calvert led me to a youtube video you had posted here.

Now I just noticed that you link to another, completely unrelated blog that I read, Renegade Eye.

And you come from Romford, while I originally come from just down the road in Grays.

Small world this internet.

jams o donnell said...

Jethro Tull? The poor people have enough misfortune without Jethro Dull assaulting their ears ewbl!

Indeed. It's a big surprise frolic. And it's a small world. Are you a fan of Robert Calvert and Hawkwind? Ren linked to me well over a year ago now. I don't coment that often (though I read his blog). It's pretty lively. And it's a small world!

frolix22 said...

I have been obsessed with Hawkwind for almost 20 years, discovered them when I was a schoolboy.

As I write this I am sitting next to a pile of about 45 Hawkwind CDs; been to see them lots of times and will be at the Astoria this December once again.

jams o donnell said...

It's been over 30 years for me. I first got to se them in 1979 with Tim Blake. I'll be getting my ticket for the Atoria soon. I'm sad that Alan Davey's left - probably in acrimonious circumstances... as usual!

The Lone Beader said...

Interesting.... I am a longtime popcorn addict myself, but I swear I've never inhaled... LOL.

Maybe the guy could make kettle corn on the stove. I do that sometimes, too, and the quality is a zillion times better...

jams o donnell said...

I've never eaten miicrowave popcorn... WE don't have a microwave! I agree about self popped popcorn.. great stuff, especially if then coated in butter and pale syrup then heated gently in the oven.. heaven!

frolix22 said...

"I'm sad that Alan Davey's left - probably in acrimonious circumstances... as usual!"

Yeah, no doubt. Alan will always be a Hawkwind legend, but there is a video of Hawkwind performing Flying Doctor with Dibs on bass at the official site and it rocks.

jams o donnell said...

Alan most certainly is a Hawkwind legend. I rate him as the second most important person ever to have been in the band - ahead of, dare I say it, Bob Calvert and far more important than Nik Turner, regardless of his delusion of being the conscience of the band! That's not to say I don't enjoy Space Ritual but Turner would be forgotten without Brock keeping Hawkwind together over the years.


I quite like Dibs. Spacehead aren't bad at all. I'll have to look at the vid. Cheers!

frolix22 said...

"ahead of, dare I say it, Bob Calvert and far more important than Nik Turner"

Ooh you controversy-monger you! Don't let anyone hear that at the Astoria. It could get ugly. ;)

frolix22 said...

I forgot. I wrote a journal at my last.fm site which addresses exactly that issue, among other things.

The Ultimate Hawkwind Journal

jams o donnell said...

I know it's controversial view. While Turner was an original member of the band Alan Davey was a rock for years.

I like your Last FM list. I would choose a slightly different running order - I would probably rate Levitation and Hawklords higher than you but variety IS the spice of life!

Steve Bates said...

jams, health issues aside, don't bother trying microwave popcorn. It's a poor excuse for the real thing. I admit I've resorted to it, but I can't imagine being attracted enough to the aroma to sniff the just-popped bag. I suppose the good news is that now the microwave popcorn manufacturers will have to replace the alleged butter-flavor with... duh... butter!

Oh, and thank you for introducing me to Hawkwind on your blog. I've enjoyed hearing them, though I doubt I'll attend a live concert. I've driven to San Antonio to hear another concert one time, but I think that's about my limit. :)

jams o donnell said...

butter popcorn with butter? Heaven forfend! Glad you like Hawkwind Steve. THey have had a very long and very varied career. There've been some clinkers along the way but a lot of gems too