There are several Tiktok videos going around claiming that 'vegetable oils are worse for your health than cigarettes'.

For example: TikTok user @thebenazadi said in a 2020 TikTok that Professor Brian Peskin of MIT told him that 'research would show':

a person who smokes two packs of cigarettes every single day for up to 28 years; their chances of developing lung cancer within those 28 years is about 16%. Then we compared that to somebody who had cooked vegetable oils every single day for about 28 years, their chances of developing cancer or heart disease was 86%, yikes.

(This is a commercial, shortened to advertise the long format podcast with Peskin at "The Healthiest Oil For Cooking, This Study Reveals Why Smoke Point Is Irrelevant! - Ben Azadi KKP:162", relevant part starting at 18:45…. Unfortunately 'the study' mentioned in this episode's title is not the one that Peskin seems to refer to…)

This seems crazy to me, both of the numbers. Is there any truth to these claims?

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    The actual claim in the video is that someone who smokes 2 packs a day for 28 years has a 16% chance of getting cancer in those 28 years, while someone who consumes cooked vegetable oils every day for 28 years has a 86% chance of getting cancer or heart disease. There is no claim of causation, and note the "or heart disease". He attributes this to Brian Peskin, who he claims is an "MIT researcher", but Peskin's own web site only says he has a BS in electrical engineering from MIT.
    – benrg
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 6:39
  • Brian founded the field of Life-Systems Engineering Science. This field is defined as The New Science of Maximizing Desired Results by Working Cooperatively with the Natural Processes of Living Systems. Seems like an ideal question for this site. Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 12:32
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    The claim seems to be very particular about the smokers not developing lung cancer DURING the 28 years. Does the same apply to the "all cancers plus heart disease" claim? I'd be extremely skeptical of claims that 86% of 46 year old vegetable oil fans had cancer or heart disease. Conversely I wouldn't be surprised if, given unlimited time, 86% of people eventually suffered from one (or both) of the top two (by far) causes of death regardless of whether a person uses vegetable oil or not.
    – Eric Nolan
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 9:18
  • Noticing that in an earlier episode its title with Peskin was "with EFAs" (ie: essential fatty acids; which are usually plenty in many veg oils…) it seems a first step to answer this would be to ascertain what was actually said in the podcast? Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 11:59
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    @LangLаngС I don't understand why you haven't yet made an answer, after a large number of comments, observations, links, and criticisms. Put your money where your mouth is. Commented Oct 8, 2022 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


There does not seem to be any supporting evidence for the claim.

By 'vegetable oils' they must mean 'seed oils', which have been the object of discussion among the health-conscious.

The specific claim made in the short video has been examined by Insider in their article Some keto evangelists believe vegetable oil is worse than cigarettes, but the science behind the theory doesn't add up. It mentions Ben Azadi, founder of the health coaching site Keto Kamp, as seen in the video.


There's little peer-reviewed research to back up claims that seed oil is worse than smoking

While there's evidence processed foods and food fried in oil aren't good for our health, claims about the risks of seed oil in particular go far beyond what current research can support. Azadi said his comments are based on the work of Dr. Cate Shanahan, a family physician who writes frequently about vegetables oils. Many of the studies she cites suggest correlation, not causation, between oils and illness, or focus on lab rodents, not humans.

Why fears of inflammation are also over-hyped

Among keto evangelists, though, there has been some concern that too much omega-6 from seed oils, and too little omega-3 (found in greater concentration in things like fatty fish), can cause inflammation in the body. That's because one type of omega-6, arachidonic acid, is linked to molecules that promote inflammation.

Research has suggested that's not the case — studies have shown it does not increase inflammation, and in somes cases reduces it. Although it's not entirely clear how it works, it appears that arachidonic acid can also be converted by the body into molecules that help fight inflammation.

That Research links to the National Library of Medicine, NCBI Literature Resources.

Omega-6 fatty acids and inflammation

... Hence, it is commonly believed that increasing dietary intake of the omega-6 fatty acids ARA or its precursor linoleic acid (LA) will increase inflammation. However, studies in healthy human adults have found that increased intake of ARA or LA does not increase the concentrations of many inflammatory markers. Epidemiological studies have even suggested that ARA and LA may be linked to reduced inflammation. Contrastingly, there is also evidence that a high omega-6 fatty acid diet inhibits the anti-inflammatory and inflammation-resolving effect of the omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, the interaction of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and their lipid mediators in the context of inflammation is complex and still not properly understood.

The Insider also mentions trans fats:

A now-banned version of seed oil was linked to inflammation

The evidence on the health risks of trans fats is so substantial that trans fats and oils that contain them have been banned in the US since 2018.

Perhaps the keto diet activists haven't updated since then.

The video makes an unfair comparison. Although the text caption says

Smoking cancer risk = 16%. Vegetable oils cancer risk = 86%

the narrator slips heart disease into it: comparing death from cancer among smokers with cancer and heart disease among those who consume vegetable oils. Wikipedia shows that amongst the whole population heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death, with heart disease at the top – not cancer. On these grounds alone, the narrator Ben Azadi has twisted the case.

But anyway, there is a table for the US in 2020 given by Medical News Today, and it states

the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. accounted for 74.1% of the total deaths

These top ten together are less than the 86% claimed, which given that almost everybody has some daily intake of seed oils, seems to be wholly spurious: you might as well claim it is due to drinking water.

I have so far avoided reference to Brian Peskin, who the narrator Ben Azadi cites as his source. According to QuackWatch in 2002 he was fined by the State of Texas for making unsubstantiated claims about Radiant Health Products and Peskin’s credentials.

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    I'd like to see the answer address the hidden switcheroo in the claim (lung cancer only versus all cancers AND heart disease).
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 22:28
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    @LangLаngС: The way I read it: The context is that vegetable oils are worse than smoking cigarettes - that is the claim that they open the video with and they want you to believe. When it comes time to actually support the claim, the goals suddenly shift mid-sentence, and no longer supports the original claim.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 5, 2022 at 23:39
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    A simple counterfactual might be even more convincing than the "no convincing evidence" conclusion. If vegetable oils were really worse than smoking, then, given the number of consumers, there would be a huge level of observed mortality. Smoking kills ~50% of smokers form obviously related causes. If oils were worse, that would be lot of excess deaths.
    – matt_black
    Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 16:51
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    @LangLаngС the only purpose of the ad hominem (which was last) was to show that the claimed source is unreliable. It is not a credible source. Both Azadi and Peskin have vested interests. The video mentions "interviewing Brian Peskin [unintelligible] ... podcast... " without clear attribution. Commented Oct 6, 2022 at 18:24
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    @LangLаngС I think you should post your own answer. Commented Oct 7, 2022 at 8:55

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