Friday, June 14, 2013

Toxin in Artificial Butter Flavoring Connected with Higher Alzheimer’s Risk

Toxin in Artificial Butter Flavoring Connected with Higher Alzheimer’s Risk: Next time you have a relaxing movie night at home and have a craving for microwave popcorn, you may want to choose a non-buttered variety.

A new study has found that a chemical in the artificial butter flavoring used on microwave popcorn, as well as in some candies, baked treats and margarines, can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, or worsen the condition if it is already present.

The ingredient in question is diacetyl, also known as DA. A research team at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis discovered that the structure of DA has distinct similarities to the substance responsible for forming beta-amyloid proteins.

Beta-amyloid proteins, in excess numbers, sometimes clump together to form plaque on neurons. This neural plaque is a strong indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

To test their theory that DA could have these beta-amyloid-producing effects, the scientists grew nerve cells in a laboratory, and exposed them to DA. They found that the DA led to an increase in beta-amyloid clumps formed on the cells, and that the clumping led to toxic damage to the cells. This study was published in Chemical Research in Toxicology.

DA has been under scrutiny by several older studies, which linked it to breathing trouble in those working at food-flavoring and microwave popcorn factories. While the exposure levels were high in the factory employees, die-hard microwave popcorn fans may well experience ill effects, as chemicals are often stored in the body and accumulate over time.

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