TWO-PACK HABIT? IT COULD BE LETHAL
Jon Christian Ryter
November 4, 2009
When you pick up a pack of cigarettes, any pack of cigarettes, you'll see the government's warning label clearly printed on the side of the package or fliptop box. The warning label's changed several times over the last three or four decades. The first government-mandated label was true, but it wasn't scary enough for the anti-smokers. The label said: "Smoking may be has hazardous to your health." That statement was absolutely correct. But, it didn't make anyone quit. Anti-smoking lobbyists got the warning changed to read: "Smoking can cause lung cancer." That statement was blatantly false. No scientific evidence has ever existed that conclusively, or even circumstantially, proves that smoking causes lung cancer. And, none exists today. The anti-smoking crowd, with as much real science behind them as Al Gore who continued to argue that we are experiencing global warming even though the mountains of hard science show the planet is cooling.
It's so obvious to everyone now that even the enviro-wackos dropped the global warming rhetoric and now use the term climate change to cover their butts regardless how warm or cold it gets (which clearly shows the enviro-wackos are clueless what's happening with the weather). Except during Solar Cycle 24 when they insisted carbon dioxide emissions were causing the Earth to warm, Venus and Mars were unexplainably warming, too even though there were no humans on either planet (that we know about). There are tons of evidence to prove that smoking will kill you, but not from cancer. And, more specifically, not from "second hand smoke." The Second hand smoke theory was created to explain how, if smoking causes lung cancer, people who have never smoked get lung cancer. Bad people blow smoke on good people.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not letting the people who generate second hand smoke off the hook. Grownups who smoke around children create medical problems equally as deadly as cancer. Second hand smoke causes asthma, emphysema and, in females, coronary microsvascular syndrome. Second hand smoke in all ages and both sexes can, and will, cause all forms of heart disease. The medical community chooses to lie about the dangers of smoking because cancer scares people more easily than any of the diseases you will actually get from smoking. Oh, and by the way, if you are genetically predisposed to cancer, smoking can also cause cancer in those people. Anyone who smokes is stupid. Take that from a guy who started smoking at 15 years of age and permanently quit on July 7, 2001. (I quit a few times for anywhere from a year or two to ten years. But, once I realized that every drag on every cigarette was like sucking Elmer's Glue into my arteries and sitting there waiting for the plaque to stick to it and kill me, I'll never light up another butt.)
Tar and nicotine—those addictive ingredients in cigarettes that make you want to light up another one as soon as you put out the last one—are adhesives. (For us common folk, that means "glue." When you inhale them as gases, they become gooey substances in your veins, arteries and capillaries. Add a little plaque and your arteries will get sufficiently plugged with enough gunk to cause a heart attack, or cause you to get asthma or emphysema. Now, if I what we were really talking about was a two pack a day cigarette habit causing coronary microvascular syndrome, I'd tell you that women are more likely than men to suffer death from a first heart attack.
But even though it sounded like we've been talking about cigarettes, we weren't. The two pack habit we're talking about today is popcorn. And, the only warning label on that package (usually written in English and Spanish) is that the contents of the package when you remove it from the microwave oven is hot. The only health warnings on the popcorn package is that the contents are hot. Yet, one former microwave popcorn groupie, Wayne Watson, never thought his two bag a day habit of eating microwave popcorn would be hazardous to his health. It almost killed him.
On Sept. 24, 2007 the US House of Representatives decided to mandate that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA] force microwave popcorn manufacturers to take steps to protect workers from inhaling a chemical called Dactyl that gives microwave popcorn its buttery flavor. Dactyl is a natural byproduct of fermentation. It occurs naturally in the fermentation of alcoholic beverages and is synthetically manufactured in many packaged food products to , once again, give those products a "buttery taste." Dactyl is used in margarine, which is simply vegetable oil that would taste like shortening without that buttery flavor.
However, the problem that afflicted Wayne Watson usually only affects the employees of microwave popcorn manufacturing companies. But, every now and then, it affects affects consumers who obsessively eat microwave popcorn—like Watson . He was the first consumer diagnosed with broncheolitis obliterans, or has it is now commonly called, "popcorn lungs." Watson was a 54-year old Denver, Colorado sofa salesman. Watson has a "two-bag-a-day-habit." Watson's has diminished lung capacity. They work about at about 50% level. He has never smoked in his life. Nor has any doctor suggested he's suffering from the affects of second-hand smoke.
After running every test humanly possible, Watson's physician, Dr. Cecile Rose, Director of occupational diseases at the National Jewish Research Center in Denver is currently overseeing all of the studies in the microwave popcorn plants owned by ConAgra Foods, General Mills and the American Popcorn Company. This is going to be a weird question," she said to Watson, "but bear with me. But, are you around a lot of popcorn?" Watson's jaw dropped. He replied: "How could you know that about me? I'm Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn." He told Dr. Rose that he eats at least two bags of microwave popcorn everyday, and has done that for well over ten years. "When I break open the bag," he said, "I inhale the fragrance I like the smell of it so much."
That smell Watson likes so much is heated dactyl. Since Dr. Rose is one of the primary physicians studying lung disease caused by dactyl., she went to his Denver home and measured the levels of dactyl.—and found the levels in his house to be close to the levels in the factories in the Denver area that manufacture microwave popcorn. She told Watson to immediately stop eating microwave popcorn, Within 6 months, Watson lost 50 albs. His lung deterioration has ceased and his lung capacity is now improving.
When OSHA began investigating Dactyl they felt their investigation would never reach beyond the plants that manufactured it. OSHA suspected since 2000 that Dactyl was likely causing increased incidences of bronchiolitis obliterans in factories where the chemical compound was used. And that included more than popcorn makers. It included any factory using the butter-taste enhancer. One lawyer in Missouri represented 600 factory workers in 41 microwave popcorn plants. OSHA itself was investigating about a hundred cases of bronchiolitis obliterans when the Wayne Watson case hit the media, bringing "popcornitis" to the media forefront. The House passed HR 2693, the Popcorn Workers Lung Disease Prevention Act, by 260 to 154. The law would required manufacturers to regulate the use of flavor enhancers like Dactyl The Senate never addressed the measure, so the bill never became law. The bill passed in the House doe to Democratic majority Republicans stymied the bill in the Senate, with President Bush-43 adamantly opposed to legislation to eliminate the buttery flavor from microwave popcorn.
John Hallagan, general counsel for the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association said they warned all of their members in 2004 how to properly label any food products containing Dactyl Among those companies which used Dactyl, but have stopped using it in their products were Orville Redenbacher, Act II, PopSecret and JollyTme popcorn. Weaver Popcorn became the first microwave popcorn to introduce buttery taste without the use of Dactyl Orville Redenbacher, Act II and PopSecret quickly followed suit.
Had the Diacetyl decision been left tot he discretion of OSHA, all of the two-pack a day consumers and all of the workers in the microwave popcorn industry would still be suffering. Once the Democrats got control of both Houses of Congresses, SEIU pressured Congress,arguing that OSHA forfeited its right to set the time and tempo for controlling Dactyl in order to protect popcorn workers and popcorn consumers.
The House, without the consent of the Senate, and without a bill that passed joint conference and was sent to he President to sign, created a "one-house" law and implemented the provisions of HR 2693. The Missouri law firm that initiated most of the actions against the Dactyl industry won $52.7 million in jury verdicts against four popcorn makers. Undisclosed settlements were made in 120 other cases. Over 500 lawsuits are still pending.
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When you decide to pop yourself a nice hot, delicious bag of microwave popcorn, just remember one thing. When you open the bag—its hot. Don't inhale the hot fumes. Even if there is no Diacetyl in the bag. Hot fumes can damage your lungs. But, just to be safe, I would check the package for the ingredients with any new brand of microwave popcorn I bought—especially if its imported from China. If you find Diacetyl is an active ingredient, forget the popcorn snack for the evening. Sit back, turn on the TV and have a smoke. If you're going to kill yourself, you might as well enjoy the cigarette.