The official blog of the Lung Institute.
There may be more to flavoring powder than we think.
For those suffering from pulmonary fibrosis—particularly when it’s idiopathic—often times the onset of the disease can seem to come without cause. Although the causes of pulmonary fibrosis can range from smoking, poor work environments and genetics, the CDC recently discovered that popcorn and other flavorings can have negative effects on the respiratory system and even contribute to chronic lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to review the question that may affect more than we know: Can Popcorn Flavoring Cause Pulmonary Fibrosis?
How Does It Happen?
Every year, Americans consume more than 17 million quarts of popcorn, and almost universally, butter and powdered flavorings are as common to find as ketchup is to a hotdog stand. The problem is that flavoring chemicals are very volatile; this means that they have a tendency to evaporate into the air while in a liquid form (think vapors) and can be easily inhaled in a solid form (think dust).
For workers at flavoring and microwave popcorn production plants, after routinely handling open vessels of flavorings or their chemical ingredients in large pots, they began to develop severe lung disease. To add fuel to the fire, the rate in which these flavoring chemicals are released into the air is increased when they are exposed to heat. Unfortunately, given the widespread nature of flavoring agents, these chemicals can be found in common snack foods such as chips, pretzels, baking mixes, margarine and vegetable oil-based cooking products.
How Can It Affect Me?
Although these flavoring agents are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) to be eaten by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these chemicals can still be harmful to inhale. The common side effects of this type of overexposure are irritation to the eyes, respiratory tract and skin. Higher exposure to the most prominent chemical within these agents, diacetyl, was commonly associated with lowering FEV1 in those studied. Among those followed in the study, people who had worked as mixers for more than a year had more shortness of breath than those who had worked for less time.
What Can I Do?
Because the primary effects of exposure to these chemical agents came from those who worked in facilities that manufactured them, general exposure may not be considered as harmful. However, it is recommended to avoid exposing yourself to these chemicals as much as you can within your daily life. Avoid applying butter flavoring on your popcorn and reduce your consumption of microwave popcorn, flavored chips and spray-on cooking oils like Pam.
Pulmonary fibrosis can be a devastating disease if left untreated. Time can be a factor in any decision, particularly for those suffering from chronic lung disease. If you’re looking to take a more proactive approach to your health, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. If you or a loved one suffers from a chronic disease like COPD, emphysema, pneumoconiosis or other symptoms of lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help with a variety of adult stem cell treatment options. Wondering how stem cell therapy works? Or where is the Lung Institute? Contact us at (800) 729-3065 today for more info and to find out if you qualify for stem cell therapy.
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