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Cancer Myths

CANSA Is Canola Oil Poisonous?

CANSA Is Canola Oil Poisonous?

Rumour has it that canola oil is poisonous because it is made from rape seed. However, Dr Carl Albrecht, Head of Research at CANSA, could find no scientific evidence for these bizarre claims.

Read CANSA’s latest Position Statement & Fact Sheet re Canola Oil here…

Canola oil myths

The following are some of the accusations which were made against canola oil:

  • The rape plant from which canola oil is made, is the most toxic of all food plants
  • Rape is a weed which even insects won’t touch
  • Rape is a hundred times more toxic than soy oil
  • Canola oil forms latex-like substances that make red blood corpuscles stick together to form clots
  • Rape oil causes blindness and deterioration of the nervous system
  • Rape oil causes emphysema, respiratory distress, anaemia, and constipation
  • Rape seed oil caused mad cow disease in the UK
  • Rape oil is the source of mustard gas, the infamous chemical warfare agent
  • Rape oil contains isothiocyanates, which inhibit ATP, a chemical in the body that keeps us young and healthy
  • Substances called glycosides in canola oil depress the immune system and “make the T cells go into a stupor and fall asleep on the job”

The list of horrid effects attributed to canola oil goes on and on.

The truth about canola oil

Dr Carl Albrecht, Head of CANSA Research, did systematic research into the international scientific literature available in order to debunk each and every one of the above-mentioned myths. Here is what he found:

  • Canola oil is made from rape seed, but the variety of rape used to produce the oil is not identical to the common rape plant;
  • Rape seed oil has been used in Europe for many years for cooking, in margarine and as bird seed. If it was so dreadfully toxic, people would have stopped using rape seed oil and seeds long ago;
  • There is no scientific evidence that insects shun the rape plant. If they did, rape plants would not be pollinated and would have died out centuries ago;
  • Soy oil is certainly not toxic and there is no indication that canola oil is toxic either;
  • Canola oil contains linolenic acid, which increases one of the essential omega-3 fatty acids called EPA in human tissues and actually reduces the stickiness of red blood corpuscles and therefore reduces blood clotting tendencies;
  • Not a single piece of evidence could be found that canola oil or rape seed oil interferes with vision or the central nervous system;
  • Even when healthy humans were fed 75 grams of canola oil for 21 days in a variety of studies, none of the volunteers complained of any negative effects whatsoever;
  • Research has shown that mad cow disease was caused by a virus-like organism called scrapie found in sheep. When scrapie-infected sheep offal, was fed to cows, the disease was transmitted from the dead sheep to the cows. Not a drop of canola oil was involved in this epidemic;
  • Mustard gas is not made from rape seed oil, but by treating a chemical called ethylene with sulphur chloride or dihydroxyethyl with hydrochloric gas. In other words, mustard gas is produced synthetically and is not derived from rape oil at all;
  • Canola oil does not contain isothiocyanates, but if it did, this would be a nutritional advantage because isothiocyanates which are found in plants belonging to the cabbage family are known to stimulate the body to excrete carcinogens and thus protect us against cancer;
  • Canola oil contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids as mentioned above and omega-3 fatty acids help to stimulate the immune system, not put it to sleep.

The sensible approach

Readers will have deduced that each and every one of the canola oil myths is either not true or that exactly the opposite applies, e.g. instead of suppressing the immune system, canola oil will stimulate it to work more efficiently.

So please take these ludicrous e-mails that do the rounds and list horrid effects of perfectly harmless and healthy foods with a large pinch of salt. They are probably circulated to create mischief and cause panic. Food myths may also be spread by individuals who are paid to discredit such foods by the manufacturers of opposition products.

Don’t panic if you read such misinformation. Do some reading in your library or on the Internet or ask an expert.

Source: Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc –

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