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Women's Health

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Trans Fats Linked to Stroke in Women

Study: Women Who Ate the Most Trans Fats Had Highest Stroke Risk
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 1, 2012 -- Artery-clogging trans fats have been linked to heart disease in study after study, and now new research suggests that the fats may also increase stroke risk in women.

Middle-aged and older women whose diets contained the most trans fats in the newly reported study had the highest risk for stroke, but regular use of aspirin appeared to moderate this risk.

Researchers analyzed data collected from more than 87,000 women in the largest study ever to examine the impact of dietary fat on stroke risk.

They found no evidence linking total fat intake or intake of other types of fat to stroke, but eating high amounts of trans fats was strongly associated with elevated risk.

Women in the study who ate the most trans fats had a 39% greater stroke risk than women who ate the least after taking into account other lifestyle and dietary factors that contribute to stroke.

“Trans fats are well-recognized risk factors for heart disease and heart attack, and our study finds that they are a risk factor for ischemic stroke,” says researcher Ka He, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. An ischemic stroke occurs when the supply of blood to a region of the brain is fully or partially blocked.

Trans Fats and Stroke

Once a staple of processed baked goods and fried foods, trans fats are slowly disappearing from grocery aisles and restaurant kitchens as a growing number of studies suggest that they may be more dangerous for health than other dietary fats.

The new study, which appears in the March issue of the journal Annals of Neurology, included women participating in the ongoing Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) health trial.

The women, who were aged 50 to 79 when they enrolled in WHI in the mid-to-late 1990s, completed detailed dietary questionnaires, which, among other things, examined their intake of various dietary fats.

The finding that trans fat consumption, but not consumption of other fats, was strongly associated with increased stroke risk was only seen in women who were not regular aspirin users.

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