Fact or Myth: Is Microwave Popcorn a Health Hazard?

This is a FACT.

Popcorn is a popular low-calorie, low-fat snack, especially among health enthusiasts looking to lose a few pounds. When kernels are air-popped (even when topped with real butter and a sprinkle of pink Himalayan salt) popcorn is indeed healthy. Microwave popcorn, however, is a different story. Not only does the artificial butter flavoring in microwave popcorn contain the chemical diacetyl, which has been linked to a rare form of lung disease, but microwave popcorn bags are lined with dangerous contaminants. When we eat microwave popcorn, we are ingesting these carcinogenic chemicals, which can cause health problems from reproductive challenges to life-threatening cancers.

microwave popcornPopped with PFOA

Microwave popcorn bags are made with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA),  a chemical the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has labeled a “likely carcinogen.” The EPA has also acknowledged that PFOA—used to make Teflon and other stain- and stick-resistant materials—also “poses developmental and reproductive risks to humans.” When microwave popcorn is heated, PFOA leaks into the popcorn, eventually manifesting as contaminants in our blood. PFOA has been implicated in…

Infertility Issues: The journal Human Reproduction published a study that showed PFOA increased the odds of infertility by as much as 154%!

Thyroid Trauma: A 2010 study indicated that people with the highest PFOA levels were twice as likely to have current thyroid disease than people with the lowest concentrations of PFOA. If left unchecked, thyroid disease can lead to chronic conditions such as heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis.

Cancer Cases: Animal studies have linked PFOA to tumors in the liver, pancreas, testicles, and mammary glands. A human study showed that PFOA dramatically increased the likelihood of prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers.

Cholesterol Crises: In 2010, the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine reported that children and teens with high concentrations of PFOA in the blood exhibited higher levels of both total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol.

In 2009, the EPA and eight U.S. companies reached an agreement to eliminate PFOA from all products—excluding Teflon—by 2015, a first step in reducing our exposure to PFOA. In the meantime, pop your popcorn the old fashioned way. The health risks of microwave popcorn just aren’t worth the convenience.