DOES MICROWAVE POPCORN CAUSE CANCER? FACT OR MYTH?

One of the things you can’t do without while at the cinema is popcorn. You eat a lot of this snack but you’ve now heard that it’s really dangerous to your health. How do you go about it? Before addressing that, let’s first understand what the term “microwave popcorn” really means.

According to Wikipedia, microwave popcorn is a convenient food consisting of unpopped popcorn in an enhanced, sealed paper bag intended to be heated in a microwave oven.

Most times at the cinema, it is something you can’t do without; else, it [cinema] only gets boring. But now you are hearing that it’s dangerous to one’s health, yes, your health. You may ask why right?

“How could it be possible that a source low in fat and high in fiber can cause cancer and other health issues, isn’t this crazy?”—you may ask.

Well, the truth is that the nightmare is not really associated with the popcorn itself, there are chemicals behind this fact that you perhaps, didn’t know.

The first issue stems from the use of diacetyl by a worker in a microwave popcorn factory who developed lung disease, having similar features of lung cancer. This problem found in the man was as a result of him consuming extra butter-flavored microwave popcorn each day for 10 years and regularly inhaling a plethora of the chemical.

Diacetyl is one of the chemicals used in the factories for manufacturing buttery coatings for microwave popcorn. This disease destroys the lungs of the individual involved and can only be treated by a lung transplant. The vast majority of the public eating popcorn doesn’t, in any case, inhale this chemical to create any negative effects on their lungs.

Although most manufacturers claimed to have removed this chemical from their products, allegations from news reports are still flying in the air—that the ingredients (diacetyl substitute) now used in the manufacturing of popcorn is similar to diacetyl. Also, according to government scientists, this new diacetyl-free microwave popcorn has a similar side effect as the former. However, the point is that the hazard is only upon workers in the popcorn factories, not the consumers because the chemical only causes damage when inhaled, not when the popcorn is eaten.

Another issue has to do with the chemical called perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) used in packaging the popcorn. PFCs are very capable of resisting any grease-like substances, thus making them the best anti-grease agents for the lining of popcorn bags. The problem with PFCs is that it gets to a point when they break down into smaller particles called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). And research has shown that this chemical is a culprit for cancer. This occurs when the popcorn is heated and then eaten, which later gets into the bloodstream and remains there for a long period of time.

The chemical has been linked with cancer and birth defects in animals, and it is so pervasive that it is detectable in the blood of 95 percent of Americans.

If you consume popcorn regularly, it is advisable you opt for other available healthy options. You can try air-popping popcorn before you leave for the theatre.

You can also make stovetop popcorn by using a lidded pot and little olive oil or coconut oil.

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