Microwave Popcorn Linked to Lung Damage

'Safer' butter flavoring turns out as dangerous

The dangers of microwave popcorn go far beyond stinking up the office or blistering one’s fingers trying to open the smoking bag, as the imitation butter flavoring can cause respiratory problems in workers who inhale it.

As funny as the idea of a "butter lung" outbreak may sound at first, it’s actually quite serious. The initial butter flavoring, diacetyl, was found to cause a life-threatening and nonreversible lung disease in the workers that inhaled it, according to UPI.

The replacement flavoring, pentanedione, makes popcorn taste and smell like it’s been buttered, but a recent study in the American Journal of Pathology says it’s pretty much as toxic as the stuff it was meant to replace.

According to the study, pentanedione "is a respiratory hazard that can also alter gene expression in the brain of rats."

The ability to alter gene expression in rat brains is high on the list of things that might make a person want to reconsider eating a substance, no matter how much it reminds him of butter.

"Flavorings should be substituted only when there is evidence that the substitute is less toxic than the agent it replaces," the CDC’s Ann F. Hubbs said in a statement.

For some more healthful and probably much tastier alternatives, check out some of our best popcorn recipes.