Popcorn ingredient found to be linked with Alzheimer’s
Published August 08, 2012
Movie popcorn has often been criticized for its high calorie count, but now the tasty treat may harm more than just your waistline.
A recent study has found that diacetyl, an ingredient in popcorn responsible for its buttery flavor and smell, may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, UPI.com reported.
The scientists said they focused on the substance, because it has already been associated with respiratory and other health issues in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories. According to UPI.com, diacetyl is used in other products such as margarines, snacks and candies, baked goods and in some beers and chardonnay wine.
Robert Vince, director of the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota and the study’s lead author, said diacetyl is similar in structure to another substance that aids the clumping of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain – a significant indicator of Alzheimer’s.
Just like this substance, diacetyl was found to increase the amount of beta-amyloid clumping, UPI.com said. The popcorn ingredient was also able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, a defense which prevents harmful substances from entering the brain.
The study was published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Popcorn ingredient linked to Alzheimer’s
Published: Aug. 8, 2012 at 12:39 AM
MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 8 (UPI) — Diacetyl, a flavoring used to produce the buttery flavor and aroma of microwave popcorn and other food, may be linked to Alzheimer’s, U.S. researchers say.
Robert Vince, director of the Center for Drug Design at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues Swati More and Ashish Vartak said diacetyl has been the focus of research recently because it is linked to respiratory and other problems in workers at microwave popcorn and food-flavoring factories.
In addition to microwave popcorn, diacetyl is used in margarines, snack foods, candy, baked goods, pet foods and other products such as beer or some chardonnay wine, the researchers said.
Vince’s team said it realized that diacetyl has an architecture similar to a substance that makes beta-amyloid proteins clump together in the brain — this clumping is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, found diacetyl increased the level of beta-amyloid clumping. In addition, the study found at real-world occupational exposure levels, diacetyl also enhanced beta-amyloid’s toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory.
Other laboratory experiments also showed diacetyl easily penetrated the “blood-brain barrier,” which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain, Vince said.
“In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to diacetyl, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by diacetyl,” the researchers said in a statement.
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