Popcorn may be causing Alzheimer's disease

Microwave popcorn illustration 
By: Debbie Gross 

Popcorn and other snack food, contain a dangerous ingredient that can cause Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases, according to a new report.

Diacetyl, a flavoring used to produce butter flavor and aroma, in microwave popcorn and other foods, may be causing Alzheimer's disease, U.S. researchers said.

Robert Vince, director of the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak, said that diacetyl has been the focus of recent research since it is linked to respiratory problems and other problems, for workers in microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories.

In addition to microwave popcorn, diacetyl is used in margarines, snacks, candy, baked goods, pet food and other products, such as beer and wine chardonnay, the researchers said.

Vince said the team realized that diacetyl has an architecture similar to a substance that makes the beta-amyloid proteins grouped together in the brain, such aggregation is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

"In light of chronic exposure of industrial workers to diacetyl, this study raises the disturbing possibility of long-term neurological toxicity caused by diacetyl," researchers said in a statement.