General Question

jjosephs's avatar

Does vegetable shortening cause cancer?

Asked by jjosephs (115points) May 10th, 2009

I fry my chicken with vegetable shortening because I hear it’s the best thing to fry chicken in. Is it safer or more dangerous than other types of cooking oil such as vegetable oil, coconut oil, olive oil, or margerine?

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20 Answers

asmonet's avatar

Everything is gonna give you cancer nowadays.

Read about shortening and the trans fats it contains.

Dog's avatar

The danger is more to your cardiovascular system that really takes a hit especially with the saturated fats like coconut oil and palm kernel oil.

Olive oil is purported to be one of the healthiest.

This is just a guess- but if one eats a lot of saturated fats and becomes obese fat cells do produce more estrogen and increased estrogen is linked to some forms of cancer.

It will be interesting to see if any doctors show up to fill us in on the facts.

Chances are greater that you will die of a stroke or heart attack before the cancer can get you if you eat a lot of the saturated fats.

hearkat's avatar

To the best of my knowledge, vegetable shortening is hydrogenated, and is what we call a ‘trans-fat’ (as is margarine). These are very bad for the cardiovascular system; and high-fat diets are contributors to several cancers.

Your best bet is to avoid deep-fried foods in general. Sauteeing and stir frying in olive oil is far healthier.

asmonet's avatar

You know, actually after reading about Trans Fats and the health issues surrounding its consumption…

I’d rather eat a cup of butter than a teaspoon of vegetable shortening.

hearkat's avatar

@asmonet: my point exactly. I hated margarine long before they had scientific evidence against it.

dynamicduo's avatar

Everything will give you cancer, eventually. The more valuable question to ask is whether the risk of getting cancer from vegetable shortening is of importance in your life or not. For instance, if you are a stunt driver, you are far more likely to be killed in an accident or via a medical complication than to contract cancer through vegetable shortening. Even if you’re just a Regular Joe, if you are eating McDonald’s once a week, you are doing far worse harm to your body than by frying your chicken in veggie shortening. All in all, unless you are a complete do-gooder, the risk of damage from vegetable shortening is negligible.

In my opinion, the best thing to saute food in is butter. I don’t use margarine or shortening. I do use extra virgin olive oil and canola oil from time to time.

Linda_Owl's avatar

The world is loaded with things that will cause (or contribute to developing) cancer. It is difficult to avoid all of them, but it is a good idea to avoid hydrogenated products as much as is possible, because it has been demonstrated to be bad for you.

ru2bz46's avatar

Swallowing saliva in small quantities over long periods of time has been shown to cause cancer. I’m going to eat more butter and spit more often.

Linda_Owl's avatar

@ru2bz46….......... well, we each have to make our own decisions about what we will & won’t, eat. So, whatever floats your boat (although that might take a great deal of ‘spit’!).

ru2bz46's avatar

@Linda_Owl Good catch! Let me rephrase that to:
I will eat more butter, and I will spit more often.

rooeytoo's avatar

Yeah but the butter means high cholesterol and then you die from heart attack, course a quick cardiac arrest would seem preferable to the lingering and withering caused by cancer. Maybe we better just stop eating, hmmmmmmmmm that won’t work. Guess I’ll stick with the olive oil and olive oil spread.

ru2bz46's avatar

@rooeytoo The butter is to replace margarine (which I don’t eat, anyway). Sometimes, you need the saturated fats for certain recipes (and it tastes good!). Butter is a food that does not require much processing, other than churning for a while. It’s something you can make in your own kitchen (and I have). Stick to natural whole foods, in moderation, and you’ll be better off.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ru2bz46 – olive oil is natural as well, slightly more processed but not much and it has a much higher burning point than butter so I find better for cooking as I do a lot of quick stir fry, despite what Julia Childs says I don’t like cooking with butter. And I do have to watch my cholesterol, it is a family failing, so good as butter tastes on a piece of home made bread, I’ll stick with the olive oil.

But I agree with you, I stick with non-packaged fresh foods, well for the most part anyway!

ru2bz46's avatar

@rooeytoo What do you use when you need shortening, like for pie crust? That’s where I use butter, instead of some sort of hydrogenated glop. Certainly for frying and such olive is much better. For the really high temps, I use peanut or grapeseed.

rooeytoo's avatar

@ru2bz46 – my goodness you flatter me, I don’t think I have ever in my life made a pie crust! Very rarely I will make a chicken pie but I just buy a pre-made crust and I hate to think what might be in it, that’s why I do it very rarely!!!

I often use peanut oil (with a few drops of sesame oil also) in asian foods cuz I like the taste but I have never tried grapeseed, although friends have told me that it does work well because it doesn’t burn easily.

ckinyc's avatar

I thought coconut oil is good for you.

asmonet's avatar

@ckinyc: And that was directed at what, exactly?

hearkat's avatar

@asmonet: Earlier in the post, @Dog refers to several ‘bad’ fats, including Coconut Oil.

@ckinyc: (Hi!! Haven’t seen you around in a while!)
As noted, Coconut Oil, although it’s scrumdidlyumptious, is high in saturated fat, which is the worst kind for your cardiovascular system.

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