In addition to the known negative effects on your heart and your weight, trans fat may also be harmful to your brain, colon, prostate and breast health.
Trans fats are known to elevate the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. In fact, a meta analysis of 60 research trials that found the single most effective measure for improving blood fat levels is to replace trans fatty acids with polyunsaturated fats from unhydrogenated oils.
Now, ongoing research suggests that these fats, found in some fried foods, baked goods and processed foods, may also increase the risk of stroke as well as colon, prostate and breast cancer.
1. Stroke: In a study of 87,000 postmenopausal women, those who ate the greatest amount of trans fats (an average of 7 grams per day) were 30% more likely to suffer a clot-related stroke than the women who ate the least trans fats (approximately 1 gram per day).
2. Breast Cancer: An increased intake of trans-fatty acids may raise the risk of breast cancer by 75 per cent, according to a study of 20,000 women. High blood levels of trans fatty acids, but not mono-unsaturated fatty acids, were associated with a significant increase in breast cancer risk.
3. Colon Cancer: A study of colonoscopy patients suggests that the more trans fat a person eats, the more pre-cancerous polyps occur in their colon. Those who consumed the most trans fat--averaging about 6.5 grams per day--were most likely to have increased colon polyps.
4. Prostate Cancer: Harvard researchers found that the highest blood levels of oleic acid and linoleic acids(two major forms of trans fats) were associated with a 116 and 97 per cent increase in the risk of non-aggressive prostate tumors, respectively, compared to the lowest levels.
Although the American Heart Association recommends that people limit trans fats to less than 2 grams per day, eliminating them completely is even better.
However, don’t count on the Nutrition Facts box if you want to avoid all trans fats. Federal regulations allow food labels to say there are zero grams or "no trans fat" as long as there's less than half a gram per serving. But if you have multiple servings of foods that have up to 0.5 grams each, it can quickly add up – and without you realizing it. To be safe, read the ingredients list and avoid anything that has hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated oils or shortening.
Just one more reason to eat foods that are fresh, unprocessed, and without additives, as God gave them to us in nature.
(1) American Heart Association. "Total fat, trans fat linked to higher incidence of ischemic stroke." ScienceDaily, 25 Feb. 2010. Web. 18 Apr. 2011.
(2) American Journal of Epidemiology doi:10.1093/aje/kwn069 "Association between Serum trans-Monounsaturated Fatty Acids and Breast Cancer Risk in the E3N-EPIC Study" Authors: V. Chajes, A.C.M. Thiebaut, M. Rotival, E. Gauthier, V. Maillard, M.-C. Boutron-Ruault, V. Joulin, G.M. Lenoir, F. Clavel-Chapelon
(3) Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
Volume 168, Issue 3, Pages 289-297; doi:10.1093/aje/kwn134
“Consumption of trans-Fatty Acid and Its Association with Colorectal Adenomas”
Authors: L.C. Vinikoor, J.C. Schroeder, R.C. Millikan, J.A. Satia, C.F. Martin, J. Ibrahim, J.A. Galanko, R.S. Sandler
(4) Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 1 January 2008, Volume 17, Pages 95-101, doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-07-0673 "A Prospective Study of Trans-Fatty Acid Levels in Blood and Risk of Prostate Cancer" Authors: J.E. Chavarro, M.J. Stampfer, H Campos, T. Kurth, W.C. Willett, J. Ma