Hi, my parents believe that cooking with Olive Oil changes it's nature and causes cancer.

Hello there and thank you for submitting to Ask a Dietitian!


Cooking with olive oil can cause toxic fumes and harmful particles called free radicals, which can cause damage to our cells and are linked to many chronic health problems such as cancer, if the oil reaches past the smoke point.1,2 The smoke point is the temperature in which an oil starts to burn and create smoke.


The smoke point of cooking oils can vary. Typically, refined oils have a higher smoke point. For example, light olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil. As long as the olive oil does not burn and smoke, it is ok to use for cooking!


You can use light olive oil (light in color and neutral in taste) for all-purpose cooking and baking and extra virgin olive oil (ranges in color from dark green to bright gold) for sautéeing and frying over medium-high heat. You can also use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings. Try olive oil in our recipe for Sautéed Vegetables or Classic Balsamic Vinaigrette.



Hope this helps and happy cooking!





  1. Lobo, V. et al. “Free Radicals, Antioxidants and Functional Foods: Impact on Human Health.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 4.8 (2010): 118–126. PMC. Web. 4 Oct. 2018.

  2. Team, Vascular. “Heart-Healthy Cooking: Oils 101.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Updated July 8, 2016. Accessed Oct 4, 2018. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/heart-healthy-cooking-oils-101/