david r md

Hold The Microwave Popcorn, Please!

Well, just when you thought  it was safe to pop that bag of popcorn into the microwave, it turns out that that may not be such a good idea.  Many common paper food wrappers, takeout pizza boxes, and microwave popcorn bags contain potentially dangerous chemicals called PFASs, or perfluoroalkyl/polyflouroalkyl substances, also referred to as PFCs, a large grouping of similar substances in extremely wide use today.

These toxins are also found in non-stick pots, pans and utensils; some outdoor clothing; camping tents; stain-repellant or water-repellant clothing; stain treatments for clothing and furniture; running shoes; some carpets and carpet treatments; some cosmetics such as mascara; firefighting foam; and literally thousands of other products.  Research has shown that PFASs have the potential to cause serious health conditions such as testicular and kidney cancer, hypothyroidism, elevated cholesterol levels, obesity, and ulcerative colitis, among many others, and are implicated in producing liver toxicity, developmental problems, and endocrine disruption.  Due to the generally very loosely regulated chemical industry throughout the world, however,  these chemicals and tens of thousands of others are now widespread everywhere, without ever having been tested for long term negative effects on humans.

PFASs, like so many other chemicals out there, are virtually indestructible, so they will be in our blood, our water and the breast milk that our babies drink for a long, long, long time to come.  They are also very difficult to avoid, and have even been found in animals all over the world, including the polar bears in Greenland.  They have been known to be potentially dangerous for the last fifty years or so, and last year more than 200 scientists from 38 different countries produced a document called the Madrid Statement stating the dangers of PFASs of both the older versions of these chemicals and their newer, but similar cousins.

This is just another example of how we are living in a vast, unregulated science experiment, one where we are the lab specimens.  Until the time when the chemical industry is appropriately regulated and forced to prove a substance is safe before it is put into us, and I’m not holding my breath on that one, we are on our own to protect ourselves as best as we can in this insanely toxic world that we live in.

Some simple things you can do to minimize your exposure to these dangerous chemicals:

  • Avoid non-stick cookware and utensils, use stainless steel or cast iron
  • Avoid fast and take-out food that is wrapped in paper that is coated with PFASs of one sort or another
  • Stay away from anything with the Teflon, Polartec, Gore-Tex labels for outdoor clothing and gear, and be careful with any products marked “stain-repellant” or “water-repellant”
  • Avoid carpet or furniture that is “stain-resistant”, and avoid treating any furniture or carpets with a stain-resisting finish
  • Choose personal care products that do not contain “PTPE” or anything with “fluoro” in it, including Oral B Glide Floss, which is made by Gore-Tex
  • Enjoy your popcorn made the traditional way, on the stovetop


For more info, please check out the Environmental Working Group’s great website, it has a tremendous amount of valuable information on toxicity in the environment, and the advocacy work being done to bring about positive changes for all of us.  Their website is http://www.ewg.org.  For more info on the toxicity of cosmetics and beauty/grooming products, you can visit http://www.ewg.org/skindeep





Dr. Allen gives free lectures at the Library three to four times each year, on topics of interest from the cutting edge of integrative medicine.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list for these lectures and his other speaking engagements, please email da@davidallenmd.com.