Ronald Jandacek, Ph.D.
University of Cincinnati
NIEHS Grant R21ES019206
According to a study funded in part by the NIEHS, the zero-calorie fat substitute olestra can speed the removal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the body. The findings suggest that olestra could offer a low-risk dietary intervention for people exposed to PCBs.
Olestra is a nonabsorbable fat substitute introduced in snack foods in 1996. Animal studies have suggested that olestra could increase the rate that organochlorines such as PCBs were cleared from the body. The researchers tested its effectiveness in 28 people with high levels of PCBs who lived in Anniston, Ala., which was once the main production site for a factory that made PCBs.
During the yearlong study, half of the participants consumed 12 Pringles brand potato chips a day made with vegetable oil and the other half consumed 24 Pringles a day made with olestra (total daily intake of 15 grams of olestra). The serving sizes were different to help equalize calorie consumption between the test groups. Overall, the rate of PCB clearance from the participants that ate olestra was faster during the one-year trial than experienced before the trial. Two participants in the olestra group showed a decrease in concentration of PCBs by 27 percent and 25 percent during the trial. The researchers say that olestra apparently makes fat-soluble compounds like PCBs in the intestine more likely to be dissolved, which reduces absorption of these compounds into the body.
Citation: Jandacek RJ, Heubi JE, Buckley DD, Khoury JC, Turner WE, Sjödin A, Olson JR, Shelton C, Helms K, Bailey TD, Carter S, Tso P, Pavuk M. 2014. Reduction of the body burden of PCBs and DDE by dietary intervention in a randomized trial. J Nutr Biochem 25(4):483-488.