Canola Oil Study Complete Misinformation, Motivated Scaremongering
The Canola Council of India (CCI) asks consumers to disregard news reports of a study widely reported in the media purporting to establish that canola oil may be harmful to memory and may cause weight gain.
By: Canola Council of India
Canola Council of India criticizes the study on the following grounds:
· The study was conducted on mice, not humans. Two sets of mice (total of only 22 mice) were used – one set was fed standard mice food (no oil) and the other was fed the same mice food with canola oil, both for 6 months. They were then asked to do some memory tests and finally their brains were examined for evidence of Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like pathology.
· Three different tests were conducted and the results of each noted on 6 counts (thus 18 tests). Only in 1 test out of the 18 did the standard food set (20% of the mice) perform "better". So, out of 6 counts each in 3 different tests, the standard food mice gave different results on one count and showed a 20% difference in behavior – a result considered "statistically different". The test is described in the next point.
· Y-maze test: A mouse walks to a fork in the road and then decides which fork to take. Mice apparently like to explore new spaces, so the tendency is to alternate between both forks in a maze. The ones that ate canola oil didn't alternate as much as the non-oil eaters (20% less).
· In the other 2 tests, including the Morris Water Maze, mice of all diets performed comparably.
· Here's a list of the 6 counts:
1. Beta-Amyloid Test: Small decrease for the canola oil mice (which is good), not statistically significant.
2. Tau Protein: No effect.
3. PSD95 Protein: Slightly lower levels of the canola oil, not statistically significant.
4. Inflammation Markers: No difference
5. Other AD Markers: No difference
6. Autophagy Proteins: No difference
· Overall: The data actually presented in the study does not support the interpretations in the media reports. The paper doesn't show in any way a causal link to disease in humans.
· In 2015, the same group performed a similar study on olive oil. In this test, the olive oil eating mice navigated the Y-maze with a 20% higher frequency than the canola mice in the 2017 test. This study was criticized by experts because it was based on research in just 22 mice that were genetically engineered to develop AD-like plaques in the brain (same as in this test). Genetically engineered mice are obviously different from human beings.
· Weight gain: The study reports that canola oil consuming mice weighed more at the end of the experiment. That should be expected. Standard mice food contained no oil. Canola oil food contained canola oil thus increasing the calorific content. A similar weight gain was observed in the same group's experiments with olive oil.
· The conclusion of the authors is as follows:
"our findings (in AD model mice) do not provide support to some of the current ideas suggesting healthy benefits deriving from the regular consumption of canola oil".
This conclusion cannot be understood to mean that the product causes dementia in humans. The CCI strongly recommends that consumers disregard and pay no heed to this study, the predispositions and conclusions of which appear to be motivated by interests that compete with Canola oil.
Other reviews of this study:
• Here's why you can go ahead and ignore all those click-baiting 'olive oil protects against Alzheimer's' headlines.
• Temple University again greases the clickbait machine with canola oil study.
• No Evidence of Canola Oil Causing Alzheimer's and Dementia.
CCI is a committee of the Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI).
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