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Trans Fatty Acids Now Also Linked to Higher Risk of Dementia

Trans Fatty Acids Now Also Linked to Higher Risk of Dementia

Consumption of trans fats in high levels has been linked to coronary artery disease, diabetes and more. Now, a team of Japanese researchers have specifically linked the consumption of trans fatty acids to a higher risk of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and dementia. Honda and colleagues studied 1628 adults aged 60 and older for a median of 10.3 years and measured their serum elaidic acid levels, a major trans fatty acid formed in the partial hydrogenation of vegetable oils, colloquially known as trans fats. Participants with the highest concentrations of serum elaidic acid had a 53% increased risk of dementia. This group also had a 43% higher likelihood of developing AD compared with those with the lowest levels of serum elaidic acid.

The US FDA placed a ban on high levels of trans fatty acids in food beginning in 2018. However, some foods sold in the US still contain partially hydrogenated oils because the FDA permits foods with less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving to be labeled as containing zero grams of trans fats. This labeling loophole has proven problematic, because even a careful consumer cannot eradicate trans fats from their diet without extra attention to the nutrition facts label.

The World Health Organization is taking action with an initiative to eliminate trans fats from the global food supply by 2023, but this is expected to be difficult to accomplish worldwide.

Honda and colleagues concluded that public health policy should be strengthened to eliminate trans fatty acids from foods to assist in the primary prevention of AD and dementia.

  • Honda T, Ohara T, Shinohara M, Hata J, Toh R, et al. Serum elaidic acid concentration and risk of dementia: The Hisayama study. Neurology. 2019 [epub ahead of print].

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Filed under: Cardiometabolic, Neurology, Preventive Medicine

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