[an error occurred while processing this directive] Olestra Toxicity Information Center

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.

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