NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Trans Fatty Acids And Heart Disease

September 19, 2002

Disputing claims by Steven Milloy of the Cato Institute questioning the link between trans fatty acids and heart disease, Walter Willet of the Harvard School of Public Health says multiple lines of scientific evidence including many randomized trials prove a relationship beyond any doubt.

The studies show trans fatty acids increase total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce HDL (good) cholesterol. Specifically,

  • Researchers in the Netherlands found an increased risk of coronary heart disease mortality among men consuming higher intakes of trans fatty acids.
  • University of Washington scientists found higher risk of sudden cardiac death among those with higher intakes, measured by concentrations of trans fatty acids in red blood cells.
  • A Harvard University study reported a 50 percent greater risk of heart disease among women with the highest intake of trans fat, which was highly statistically significant after controlling for standard cardiovascular risk factors and other lifestyle variables.

Thus, researchers argue, the epidemiological evidence is consistent with the results of controlled studies of trans fat consumption and blood cholesterol fractions.

Source: Walter Willett (Harvard School of Public Health), "Trans Fat, Heart Disease, And McDonald's Scientists," Letters, Wall Street Journal, September 19, 2002

For text (WSJ subscribers)


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