Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Health Center

Font Size

Trans Fats Up Heart Disease Risk

Study Shows Tripled Risk for Heavy Users; Doctors Call for Ban
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 15, 2006 (Chicago) -- Trans fats have jumped out of the deep fryer into a public grilling once again, with new research suggesting even small amounts can harm the heart.

An analysis of data from the large Nurses' Health Study shows that women who ate the most trans fats were more than three times as likely to develop heart disease as those who consumed the least.

The findings, presented here at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association (AHA), support recommendations to avoid trans fat as much as possible, says researcher Qi Sun, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health.

AHA President Ray Gibbons, MD, went further. The professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says he supports a ban.

"There was no threshold below which they were safe," Sun says.

But "We saw a linear relationship: The more trans fats you consume, the worse it is for your heart," he tells WebMD.

Trans Fats in Processed Foods

The report will no doubt please New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has called for a ban on the fats in that city.

Once praised for making crunchy foods crunchier and creamy foods creamier, trans fats are in fact one of the most dangerous forms of fat.

Engineered from liquid oils through a process known as hydrogenation, they lurk in most processed foods -- including cookies, baked goods, popcorn, margarines, shortenings, crackers, doughnuts, chips, frozen waffles, and french fries. You can't get away from them.

Doctors have known for years that these fats can be damaging to the heart, but the new study is one of the first to quantify just how harmful they are, Sun says.

Also, the study was unique in that the researchers used trans fatty acid levels in red blood cells as a marker of participants' trans fat intake. Past studies used food questionnaires or food diaries, which depend upon people's often poor recall, he says.

Just 1.3 Grams Harmful

The Nurses Health Study is one of the longest-running major women's health investigations ever undertaken.

In this research, Sun and colleagues looked at the trans fat consumption of 166 study participants who developed heart disease between 1989 and 1995, and 327 women who did not.

Today on WebMD

hdl letters stacked up
How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol.
Learn the causes.
Compressed heart
5 habits to change.
heart rate
What’s normal? What’s not?
Lower Cholesterol 02
Heart Foods Slideshow
Compressed heart
doctor looking at xrays
Heart Disease And Ed
Lowering Cholesterol Slideshow
lowering blood pressure
Wide Awake For Heart Surgery