Alzheimer’s disease is one of the larger medical mysteries of our time, with doctors working tirelessly to unlock its causes and determine what may best halt or stop its progress — and a new link has been made between butter flavor and the degenerative brain disease.
Alzheimer’s is not the first condition to be linked to the flavor that gives popcorn its buttery taste, as the condition “popcorn lung” has in the past been linked to inhaling diacetyl (DA.) But new research has found the buttery-flavored compound to possibly be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers discovered some troubling effects that they say could hasten the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s link came as researchers probed the neurological toxicity of diacetyl, and the worrying link emerged. Alzheimer’s is known to be characterized by beta-amyloid clumping due to plaques in the brain, and the research team discovered that beta-amyloid clumping resulted from exposure to diacetyl.
According to ScienceDaily, diacetyl has exhibited a few properties of note in relation to Alzheimer’s:
“DA also enhanced beta-amyloid’s toxic effects on nerve cells growing in the laboratory. Other lab experiments showed that DA easily penetrated the so-called ‘blood-brain barrier,’ which keeps many harmful substances from entering the brain. DA also stopped a protective protein called glyoxalase I from safeguarding nerve cells.”
The site quotes researchers in surmising that the Alzheimer’s and butter-flavor link should be examined further as a risk to industry workers:
“In light of the chronic exposure of industry workers to DA, this study raises the troubling possibility of long-term neurological toxicity mediated by DA.”
The Alzheimer’s and buttery popcorn link study appeared in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.