Doc Links Lung Disease, Popcorn

Too much 'buttery' microwave popcorn may have caused a man's illness
By Josie Garthwaite,  Newser User
Posted Sep 5, 2007 8:18 PM CDT
Pop Weaver popcorn has introduced the first microwave popcorn with flavoring containing no diacetyl. Diacetyl has recently come under increased scrutiny about its safety for consumers. (PRNewsFoto/Pop...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Colorado man's two-bag-a-day popcorn habit may be the cause of his mysterious respiratory illness, says a top lung specialist in Denver. Previously seen only in factory workers, the disease known as "popcorn lung" appears to arise from overexposure to a common flavoring chemical called diacetyl, the New York Times reported today.

Dr. Cecile Rose found symptoms of the disease (swollen airways, difficulty exhaling) in a man who later told her he had not only nuked popcorn twice daily for a decade, but also savored the diacetyl-laden fumes. Symptoms improved when he kicked the habit. Rose alerted regulators over a month ago with a letter that became public yesterday. (Read more popcorn stories.)