Health Risks of Corn Oil

Single Ripe Yellow Cob Of Corn On A Cornfield
Corn oil has a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Image: SimonSkafar/iStock/Getty Images)

Corn oil is extracted from corn germ, bottled for consumer use in cooking and used commercially in margarine and fried snack foods, according to Soyatech. Corn oil has a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids with stability against oxidation. The refinement of corn oil removes free fatty acids from crude corn oil, enabling the finished product to have excellent frying qualities, resistance to smoking and discoloration, flavor retention and digestibility, according to the Corn Refiners Association.

Toxicity of Liver, Kidneys and Other Organs

corn field
Genetically modified corn oil may increase risk of toxicity in the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen and heart. (Image: Algefoto/iStock/Getty Images)

Many brands of corn oil are derived from corn grown worldwide that is genetically modified for resistance to herbicides and pesticides, according to Soyatech. Genetically modified corn is relatively new to human and animal diets. The short- and long-term health consequences from consumption of genetically modified corn are not entirely known. Research by Joel Spiroux de Vendomois published in the "International Journal of Biological Science" in 2009 reports that consumption of genetically modified corn causes toxicity of the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, spleen and heart in rats. The research demonstrates the level of toxicity is often dose- dependent, meaning that as consumption of genetically modified corn increases, the level of toxicity increases.

Increased Risk of Cancer

Frying french fries close up
Corn oil is popular for frying, yet may increase your risk of cancer. (Image: Sheila_Fitzgerald/iStock/Getty Images)

Eating foods fried, cooked or prepared with corn oil may increase your risk of cancer. Corn oil contains a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-6 fatty acids. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 1 tbsp. of corn oil contains 7.436 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids, 7.239 grams of omega-6 fatty acids and zero g of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids accelerate the growth of cancer cells, such as prostate tumor cells, and tumor growth, whereas omega-3 fatty acids protect the body from cancer, according to research by Isabelle Berquin published in the "Journal of Clinical Investigation" in 2007. Most omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils, such as corn oil, is available as linoleic acid that is converted to arachidonic acid in the body, according the University of Maryland Medical Center. Research by M.D. Brown published in the "British Journal of Cancer" in 2010 demonstrates that arachidonic acid, a type of omega-6 fatty acid, promotes prostate cancer and supports the spread of cancer to the bone. The dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was one to two about 60 years ago, and in 2006 it was about 25 to one.

Weight Gain

Weight loss
Corn oil may increase your weight. (Image: Arne Trautmann/iStock/Getty Images)

Obesity is at an epidemic level in the United States. Over two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, according to research by Katherine Flegel published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association” in 2010. Research by M. Takeda published in "Nutrition" in 2001 discovered that mice, when given a choice, will continue to overeat foods with corn oil over the long term, increasing caloric intake and inducing obesity, versus mice that are fed either sugar or neither food. The research also demonstrates that mice fed corn oil have higher body weight gains and fatty liver compared with mice fed sugar or neither food.

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