Think twice about buying that popcorn the next time you go to see a movie.
A new study has found that diacetyl, a flavor ingredient used to make popcorn taste buttery, may cause Alzheimer’s disease, according to a story on WebMD.
Research, published in the online edition of Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that diacetyl causes proteins in the brain to “misfold into the Alzheimer’s-linked form called beta amyloid,” according to WebMD. These proteins, plaque, stick together and block the brain’s signals from traveling from cell to cell.
In addition, the study by the University of Minnesota also found that this popcorn-butter flavorant is able to pass through the so-called blood-brain barrier, and “inhibit the brain’s natural amyloid-clearing mechanisms,” WebMD said.
Diacetyl is already known to cause medical problems. It has been tied to lung damage in workers at microwave popcorn factories, according to WebMD. This discovery led many popcorn makers to stop using the flavorant.
So far, the tests were just conducted in labs, not using living animals. And it isn’t known whether toxic levels of diacetyl can be reached by just consuming it, WebMD reported.