All right, I was reading article on nutrition, that focussed on content analysis of pastry-like food product for kids. I have to say that I am not sure this article would pass the imaginary smell test, although it didn't raise any serious red flags, except one. Among other things, this article said that oxidation means inflammation. It said this in connection with use of rapeseed oil in said product, saying rapeseed oil is less saturated and therefore more likely to oxidize. It then implied, that when this oxidation takes place in the human body, it leads to inflammation. Now I am no biology, medicine, or nutrition specialist, but if something is still stuck in my head from high school biology, it is that inflammation is the physical manifestation of our immune system fighting off infection, no? Apart of some autoimmune reactions, I don't see how ingesting rapeseed oil could cause inflammation.

So my question is this: is it really possible to safely say: "oxidation = inflammation"? Or is it total nonsense? Or is there some theory that could support such claim and how reliable is this theory? Isn't it just one of those hypothesis disguised as theories?

Said article is in Czech, otherwise I would link it for you.

EDIT: Article link here, you can try it with Google translate :)

  • $\begingroup$ You should link the article anyway. You have an international audience for your question. :) $\endgroup$ Sep 12 '14 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ OK I edited in a link :) might be of help. $\endgroup$
    – Delltar
    Sep 13 '14 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Inflammation is not only a response against infection. It can also be triggered by any alteration in homeostasis. For example, high-cholesterol diet causes and increase in LDL particles in the blood, which deposit in the blood vessel's walls, causing an inflammatory response that when it gets out of control leads to atherosclerosis. Oxidative stress is associated with inflammation but I would not say oxidation=inflammation. $\endgroup$
    – ddiez
    Sep 13 '14 at 2:25

Oxidation does not mean inflammation. But oxidation can be a cause of inflammation.

Oxidation processes are part of normal cell metabolism (mostly in mithocondria). They lead to reactive oxygen species ($O_2^-$, $H_2O_2$ and $OH-$) which can trigger inflammation via activation of some transcription factors:

NF-κB, AP-1, p53, HIF-1α, PPAR-γ, β-catenin/Wnt, and Nrf2 [1]

The metabolic processes also produce some antioxidants to inactivate those reactive oxygen species. But the excess of oxidants leads to oxidative stress which seem to be linked with inflammation and even to cancer [1].

rapeseed oil is less saturated and therefore more likely to oxidize

Being "less saturated" I guess it would be better, as studies have found that saturated fatty acid promote inflammation [2], while unsaturated fats decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines and reactive oxygen species [3].

So my question is this: is it really possible to safely say: "oxidation = inflammation"?

NO. By definition, oxidation is a chemical reaction in which a molecule, atom or ion loses electrons [4]. On the other hand, inflammation is a very complex process, a biological response to harmful stimuli and requires cellular interaction [5].


  1. Reuter S, Gupta SC, Chaturvedi MM, Aggarwal BB. Oxidative stress, inflammation, and cancer: how are they linked? Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2010 Dec 1;49(11):1603-16. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2010.09.006. PubMed PMID: 20840865.
  2. Saturated Fatty Acids and Inflammation: Who Pays the Toll? Alan Chait and Francis Kim Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2010;30:692-693, doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.203984
  3. Supplement: n–3 Fatty Acids: Recommendations for Therapeutics and Prevention: Philip C Calder n−3 Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation, and inflammatory diseases Am J Clin Nutr June 2006 83: 6 S1505-1519S
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Redox," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Redox&oldid=621442954 (accessed September 13, 2014).
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Inflammation," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Inflammation&oldid=625272396 (accessed September 13, 2014).
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Small addition: Oxidation can be cause as well as an effect of inflammation. $\endgroup$
    Sep 15 '14 at 4:29

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