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Cottonseed Oil Side Effects

By Linda Tarr Kent

Cottonseed oil is inexpensive, so manufacturers frequently use it in foods. Cottonseed oil is rated as “mildly inflammatory” according to Nutrition Data. As a fat, it also can contribute to weight gain at nine calories per gram. Cottonseed oil can have other unwanted side effects.


The author of “Eight Weeks to Optimum Health,” Dr. Andrew Weil, advises that since cottonseed oil is high in saturated fat and low in monounsaturated fat, it raises the level of cholesterol in your blood. Your risk of stroke and heart disease rise when you have high blood cholesterol levels advise the experts at the American Heart Association.

However, cottonseed oil does not raise cholesterol levels as much as lard does according to a study by Lilla Aftergood et al. published in The Journal of Nutrition. AHA advises limiting total saturated fat intake to 7 percent of daily calories, or 140 calories on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. One teaspoon of this oil has about 40 calories according to Nutrition Data.

Cancer Risk

Cottonseed oil frequently has high levels of pesticide residue says Weil. That’s partly because cotton isn’t technically classified as a food crop; thus, farmers can use numerous agrichemicals on cotton. In fact, more pesticides are used on cotton than on any other crop worldwide, accounting for up to one-third of all pesticide use according to “Waking the Warrior Goddess: Dr. Christine Horner's Program to Protect Against and Fight Breast Cancer.”

L. W. Shemlit, in the book “Chemistry and World Food Supplies,” advises that pesticides do have the potential to cause cancer. Some commonly used pesticides are suspected risk factors for breast cancer according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. This possibility, however, is based on animal studies, so risk in people remains uncertain.

Natural Toxins

Cottonseed oil often contains natural toxins says Weil. One natural toxin in cottonseed oil is gossypol according to “Institutional Food Management,” by Mohini Sethi. In people, gossypol inhibits sperm production as well as motility, but does not affect libido or sex hormones according to Because of this characteristic, it has been studied as a male contraceptive. Generally, however, commercial cottonseed oil undergoes processing to remove gossypol content.

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