So….some of you may know that diacetyl, a component in artificial popcorn flavoring (it tastes like butter) is a new and terrifying evil that will destroy us all. At least that is what our betters at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health want us to think. It may or may not cause a nasty disease called “Popcorn Lung,” named after the people who seem to get it; workers in microwave popcorn factories. It also shows up in tiny quantities in the vapor from E-cigarettes; thus the hysteria that “SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!”
It also occurs naturally in fermentation….beer and sour cream and such. Whether this chemical causes Popcorn Lung is up for debate, but Harvard’s genius public health researchers decided not to share that debate with their readers, and instead made the hysterical and incorrect correlation between the miniscule quantities of diacetyl found in E-Cigarettes and this rare disease. Except…the amount in the vapor of E-Cigarettes is a tiny fraction of that found in…you guessed it….real cigarettes! If you are curious about the data, take a look at this; an article written by Michael Siegel, who is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health.
There’s just one minor fact that is omitted completely in the article, as well as in all the media coverage. In fact, this piece of information is found nowhere in the article at all. And by omitting this information, it virtually assured that the scientific meaning of the article would be misrepresented to the public.
That fact: All conventional cigarettes produce tobacco smoke that contains diacetyl, and the levels of diacetyl in cigarettes are a lot higher than those produced by e-cigarettes.
Obviously Boston University doesn’t have the cachet of Harvard, so he made up for it by being a better scientist. Siegel actually did the unthinkable; he looked at a study that measured the levels of diacetyl in regular cigarettes and discovered the huge difference between E-Cigarettes and regular cigarettes. Notice the conclusion in the study he cites….even a light smoker has a cumulative exposure far beyond that of a flavorings worker…yet smoking is not considered a risk factor for popcorn lung disease.
I had a conversation with one of the toxicologists who did that research, and he said that “if diacetyl caused popcorn lung, then this very rare disease would in fact be more prevalent than the common cold.”
So why is Harvard attacking E-Cigarettes? Are they being paid by Big Tobacco? Or are they just fans of hysterical manipulations of research to show massive health effects (a leftist favorite) to sell newsletters and increase their public profile? Or maybe they are big fans of hyper-regulated markets, even though increasing regulation (and cost) of E-Cigarettes will keep more people from replacing regular cigarettes with the safer E-version. Or, maybe they just suck as scientists?
Or all of the above….