Olestra Toxicity Information Center
Olestra (also known as olean) is the fake fat chemical sold by Proctor & Gamble (P&G) as a
cooking oil. The main hazards relate to chronic effects from long-term use.
The manufacturer has flooded the scientific community with studies
claiming that it is safe. In one issue of a journal published by an
organization which is sponsored by P&G, there were 15
studies conducted by the manufacturer claiming it is safe.
However, keep in mind that industry-funded and conducted research almost
never finds any problems with their own products. For example, all
industry-funded research of aspartame claims that it is safe while nearly
all of the independent research found it to cause toxicity. Tobacco
industry-funded research was similarly unreliable. The was recent information
published not long ago regarding calcium channel blockers showing
industry research nearly always claims the drugs are safe. Etc. So, it is
important to not put too much faith in industry-funded research -- it's
just common sense.
Please keep in mind that independent evaluation of reports to olestra / olean have
shown a significant number of reactions, many serious. But the more
important issue involves the issue of long-term effects. Everyone agrees
that olestra can cause some amount of serious problems with short-term use
-- i.e., acute problems. No one has determined what is happening in the
GI tract to cause the pain and other (sometimes severe) symptoms. Anyone
who has read about the development of GI tract problems in scientific
journals knows that health problems often start on a microscopic level --
e.g., microscopic ulcerations leading to ulcerative colitis. In addition,
the delicate balance of beneficial bacteria and toxic bacteria is
very important as far as long-term health goes.
Since there has been absolutely no long-term research on olestra,
especially independent research, eating olestra (even in small amounts) on
a regular basis is a dangerous experiment. Some children can eat crayons
without acute reactions, but I wouldn't consider eating crayons (in
"moderation") to be a sensible practice as far as long-term health goes.
The same can be said for tobacco, pep pills, aspartame, etc. Often times,
the lucky ones are those who have immediate acute reactions to these
hazards and a reason to avoid them.
The common-sense approach is to avoid it completely. The approach commonly
adovocated by experienced low-fat authors, e.g., McDougall, would obviously
be to avoid eating artificial foods. They're not needed. There are countless
healthier substitutes available at natural foods stores.
Further details about olestra hazards can be found on the
CSPI web page.
Avoidance of Toxic Substances Web Page
Health & Nutrition Web Page