Popcorn ingredient found to be linked with Alzheimer's

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.

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The study was published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.

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