Toxic oil syndrome

Other Names:
Health hazards of adulterated cooking oil

Toxic oil syndrome (TOS) or simply toxic syndrome (Spanish: síndrome del aceite tóxico or síndrome tóxico) is a musculoskeletal disease. A 1981 outbreak in Spain which affected about 20,000 people, with over 300 dying within a few months and a few thousand remaining disabled, is thought to have been caused by contaminated colza (rapeseed) oil. It was unique because of its size, the novelty of the clinical condition, and the complexity of its aetiology. Its first appearance was as a lung disease, with unusual features, though the symptoms initially resembled a lung infection. The disease appeared to be restricted to certain geographical localities, and several members of a family could be affected, even while their neighbours had no symptoms. Following the acute phase, a range of other chronic symptoms was apparent.


In the early 80s, one region in Spain experienced an epidemic of what seemed to be pneumonia, but with additional symptoms. It was eventually discovered to be a new disease, named toxic oil syndrome (TOS), because it is thought to be caused by consumption of adulterated olive oil. As a result of this disease, in the first two years over 20,000 people were affected and 356 people died. Those  still living are at high risk of cardiovascular diseases.  Scientists are still unsure of what exactly caused the disease, similar to an autoimmune disorder.


Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST