Microwave popcorn enthusiast proudly proclaims, "I *am* popcorn!"

Oscar Night is a few weeks away, but when you settle in to watch the show with your bowl of popcorn, please be aware that inhaling deeply from the fumes of a freshly-opened bag of microwave popcorn is not the greatest decision you can make from a health standpoint. (Then again, you probably ought to reconsider eating microwave popcorn in the first place, but let's leave that aside.)

A disease informally known as popcorn lung afflicts people who work in popcorn factories and has been known since 2002. But in 2007, doctor diagnosed the first case of popcorn lung in an end-user. The risk is not from eating the popcorn but from breathing it. "This patient described enjoying the smell so much he was actually inhaling the steam." The best part of the article was when the patient was asked, "Are you around a lot of popcorn?"

The response: "I am popcorn."

Update: Oscar Night is not actually this weekend. That's what happens when you schedule your blog entries over a year in advance and have to guess when Oscar Night is coming.

Comments (19)
  1. tsrblke says:

    It would appear that Popcorn lug is actually a virus rewritting the patient’s DNA?  Now that’s a fun disease!

  2. John says:

    Well, which is worse: dying doing something you love or living without it?  Every man dies; not every man really lives.

  3. Gabe says:

    I’m not offended by microwave popcorn. Popcorn is popped by water molecules in the kernels turning into steam, and microwaves are a very efficient way of heating water. What I do consider to be an offense against nature, however, is what passes for "butter" nowadays.

    Fortunately, there exists a popcorn that tastes so good that it doesn’t need butter (or "butter"): http://www.blackjewell.com/. I pop the stuff in oil, but I keep a box of the microwave version around to take with me when traveling.

  4. From the article,

    > Popcorn lung, or broncheolitis obliterans, permanently scars airways, eventually leaving victims fighting for breath and dependent on oxygen.

    What a terrible life is must be to be dependent on oxygen! Oh, wait…

  5. Roastbeef says:


    the pastelike oil in microwave popcorn bags (which becomes liquid when heated) decomposes into some nasty carcinogens when heated. We totally ditched microwave popcorn when we discovered this and bought a $25 hot air popper. And the hot air popper is only slightly more inconvienent than the microwave stuff (and immensely cheaper)

  6. heckler says:

    +1 for the reference, this small reddish popcorn is the most delicious I’ve ever tasted!

    You can make it on a stove with just a tall pan and a little oil or (real) butter.  Just heat it till it starts popping and shake the pan a bit. When the popping starts to die out, take it off the stove, or else you’ll get the smoke detectors angry :D

  7. Neil (SM) says:

    Yeah, the air popper is great.  Especially since it has become increasingly difficult to find plain, unbuttered, and unflavored microwave popcorn.  When you get into melting real butter for popcorn, you’ll never want the fake butter again.

    I don’t have anything against microwaving the butter, although it tends to explode if you don’t babysit it.

  8. Aaron says:

    “Popcorn Lung” was also used as a diagnosis in a Season 6 episode of the FOX show “House”, which Larry Osterman previously compared to the art of debugging. http://blogs.msdn.com/larryosterman/archive/2006/09/11/749968.aspx In this rare case, however, the diagnosis was not featured prominently in the show, as the episode focused mainly on another character and the case being handled by House’s team was only a peripheral storyline.

  9. Gabe says:

    Roastbeef: I don’t know what kind of popcorn you got, but my box (from the site I linked to earlier) contains only popcorn, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, and salt. The oil may not be healthy, but I’m pretty sure it’s no carcinogen.

  10. Sinewy says:

    Oscar Night is a couple Sundays away. http://oscar.go.com/oscar-night

    Still, it’s good to know about the dangers of popcorn lung for this Sunday’s Olympics Night!

    [Fixed, thanks. That’s what happens when you schedule your blog before the Oscars schedule are announced. -Raymond]
  11. Ben says:

    And Popcorn OS 7 was his idea?

  12. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like all those popcorn fumes have reached his brain.

  13. Jon says:

    Not popcorn butter, but in general IARC says (http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Meetings/95-cooking-oils.pdf):

    There is limited evidence in humans that emissions from high-temperature frying are carcinogenic.

    There is sufficient evidence in experimental animals that emissions from high-temperature unrefined rapeseed oil are carcinogenic.

    Overall evaluation

    Emissions from high-temperature frying are probably carcinogenic to humans (Group 2A).

  14. Jason says:

    Popcorn sounds dangerous and unnatural, I’m sticking to Bagel-fuls.

  15. Simon says:

    This "popcorn enthusiast" sounds like a potential super-villain.

    "I bleed triple-ripple vanilla road monkey! I sweat triple-ripple vanilla road monkey! I cry triple-ripple vanilla road monkey! I EVERYTHING triple-ripple vanilla road monkey!"  –Uncle Creamy, The Tick vs Education

  16. Worf says:

    @Gabe: That partially hydrogenated oil is actually quite unhealthy, and hazardous to your heart.

    Because hydrogenated oils are practically trans fats, known to cause horrible heart problems. Alas, the non-hydrogenated kind doesn’t keep so well. (Contrary to popular belief, trans fats don’t make food yummy – you can make those fried foods with trans-fat free oil.) Margerine’s downfall, too (then again, margerine comes from the same stuff your car burns and the precursor to many plastics).

    Real butter and air-popped or regular non-hydrogenated oil popped work just fine.

  17. roastbeef says:

    Actually its worse than just the pseudo-butter. The bags are coated in a substance that releases PFOA when heated… just google PFOA and you’ll see that it’s a nasty chemical.

  18. "the pastelike oil in microwave popcorn bags (which becomes liquid when heated) decomposes into some nasty carcinogens when heated."

    Quick! Somebody tell the Daily Mail! – http://kill-or-cure.heroku.com/

    "then again, margerine comes from the same stuff your car burns and the precursor to many plastics"

    Margarine is produced from primarily vegetable oil and water. The oil is hydrogenated (ie. converted to a higher percentage of saturated fats) which make it hard. If it’s intended for spreading, then it’s emulsified with water (or some milk-based product if it’s slightly less cheap stuff) to make it soft again.

    Of course that’s a grotesque simplification, but that’s the gist of it.

  19. popcornface says:

    I stopped buying microwave popcorn years ago. I like to pop my own popcorn on the stove top: http://www.popcornface.com/popcornface_stovetop.cfm

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