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Microwave Popcorn Chemical Causes Alzheimer's Disease

Posted on August 10 2012

Popcorn has been a staple snack food in the United States for decades. Made simpler by the creation of microwaves, popcorn became even more accessible and a plethora of varieties began to…well…pop up. It is now being found that the delicious buttery goodness we find in our convenient microwave popcorn bags could actually be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, among other health problems.

Diacetyl is the chemical in microwave popcorn that gives it the mouth-watering butter flavor and smell. This chemical is also found in products including margarine, snacks, candy, and pet foods. It naturally forms in fermented beverages like beers and chardonnay wines. Diacetyl has already been linked to causing respiratory problems, and various other health problems in workers at microwave popcorn manufacturing plants, as well as food-flavoring factories.

Research has found that diacetyl is capable of harming the body in several ways. In regards to Alzheimer’s disease, diacetyl is similar in chemical make-up to another substance in the body, which forces beta-amyloid proteins to clump within the brain. It is the clumping of these proteins that is the signature indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, diacetyl has been known to prevent beneficial proteins from properly protecting nerve cells and known to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which is the body’s defense at keeping harmful substances from entering the brain.

Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States and is the only cause within the Top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed down. It is the most common form of dementia. Most patients start to display symptoms after around age 60, but some patients have been known to display symptoms early. This condition is known as Early On-Set Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease that causes loss of memory and function including, the ability to perform even the simplest of daily tasks and remembering loved ones. Current statistics show that 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, including the aging baby boomer population. As the baby boomers age and become diagnosed with mental health problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s, there may not be enough caregivers to offer proper attention.

The Alzheimer’s Association has wonderful resources for family members and caregivers that will offer support and guidance for the care of Alzheimer’s patients. New studies, which are continually being done, offer insight into how this disease works and may someday lead to prevention or even a cure. Until then, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s, where volunteers fundraise and walk to offer support to the initiatives of the Association. Donations collected go to providing support programs and seminars for family members and caregivers, as well as toward funding research.

Mountainside Medical Equipment is proud to be a member of the AEDA (Alzheimer’s Early Detection Alliance), and a supporter of the Central New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. We will be participating in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Utica on September 22nd. If you would like to help us help the Alzheimer’s Association, please visit our team fundraising page. Any donations are greatly appreciated and go to helping others.

Sources: Alzheimer's Weekly - http://alzheimersweekly.com/content/popcorn-butter-quadruples-danger-alzheimers-plaque Science Daily - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120801132606.htm Fox News Health - http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/08/08/popcorn-ingredient-found-to-be-linked-with-alzheimer/

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