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Dr. Oz reveals the dangers of microwave popcorn

Microwave popcorn
Microwave popcornPhoto credit: Getty Images

During the May 1 episode of the Dr. Oz Show, Dr Oz along with Pediatrician Alan Greene shared the effects microwave popcorn has on the body. Popcorn itself is a very healthy smack but can be toxic when coupled with the chemicals carried into the body through the popcorn is what makes this popular treat a hazard to the human body.

PFOA carcinogen

Microwave popcorn bags are generally lined with perfluorooctanoate acid (PFOA). PFOA is formed as a byproduct in the production of fluorotelomers. Fluorotelomer coatings are also used in fast food wrappers, candy wrappers, and pizza box liners.

PFOA is used to line the bags to provide a lipophobic effect which prevents the oil from soaking through the bag. An estimated 20% of PFOA can be found in the human body at any time and is a direct result of microwave popcorn.

PFOA is a known carcinogen yet is still approved by the Food and Drug Administration at designated levels. PFOA can inflame the bladder causing the bladder to bleed and may lead to bladder cancer. Also, the effects of PFOA can lead to thyroid disease and respiratory problems.

Diacetyl causing “popcorn lung”

Another highly toxic chemical used in the production of microwave popcorn is diacetyl. Diacetyl is one of two compounds that provide a butter-like flavor to popcorn and other packed foods. Ingesting diacetyl regularly over time can cause lung disease.

People working in factories where microwave popcorn is manufactured may develop what is known as “popcorn lung” due to the exposure of diacetyl. "Popcorn lung" is also known as bronchiolitis obliterans in which the air ways in the lungs become scarred and obstructs breathing.

Trans Fats

The presence of trans fats in food has become a growing problem among the public in recent years. Obesity and diseases directly related to diet has have been linked to unhealthy fats. Trans fats are widely used in packaged foods due to the long shelf life of this fat.

Dr. Oz recommends preparing air-popped popcorn on the stove top or purchasing organic packaged popcorn that clearly states the omission of harsh chemicals.