Trans Fats Raises Stroke Risks In Older Women
HERE’S one more reason to avoid trans fats in your diet, especially if you are an older woman: A new study found a 39 percent increased risk of stroke among postmenopausal women who ate the highest amount of this common ingredient in baked goods, fast food and packaged products.
The research, done at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, did find that women who took aspirin regularly had a significantly reduced stroke risk.
“The findings don’t mean that you can eat trans fats and just take an aspirin,” said Dr Ka He, who added that the study showed an association and not a cause-and-effect relationship between aspirin use and lower incidence of strokes.
“We recommend a reduced intake of trans fats” to avoid heart disease and stroke, added He, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Strokes occur when an artery carrying blood to the brain is either blocked or bursts, cutting off the flow of blood and oxygen. As a result, brain cells start to die. Strokes can affect speech, motor skills or cognitive functions, depending on which part of the brain is damaged.
In the UNC study, which was published online in the Annals of Neurology, researchers analysed data from the national project known as the Women’s Health Initiative. They looked at the trans-fat intake of more than 87,000 women aged 50 to 79 using a dietary database developed at the University of Minnesota and questionnaires that measured trans-fat consumption.
Participants were asked how much of 122 foods they ate in the three months before the study, with follow-up surveys taken three years later. Medical histories were updated annually between 1998 and 2005, and 1,049 strokes were documented during that time.
Trans fats contribute to cardiovascular disease — one of the risk factors for stroke — by raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol, and may have the worst impact on health of all fats.
“It is interesting to note that the women who consumed the most trans fat also had other unhealthy lifestyle behaviours such as decreased physical activity, increased energy intake and smoking,” said Copperman.
“Trans fats are not really a part of a healthy diet,” said Dr Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She called trans fats “toxic,” adding that “this is one ingredient in food we should not be eating at all.” She also urged consumers to read food labels because trans fats sometimes can be included in reduced-fat foods.
“Just because it says ’reduced fat’ doesn’t mean it’s healthy,” Steinbaum noted.