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Trans fats tied to colorectal polyps

People who ate the most trans fats were almost twice as likely to have colorectal adenomas found when they had a colonoscopy.

Researchers interviewed more than 600 people after colonoscopies performed in University of North Carolina Hospitals between 2001 and 2002 asking them about lifestyle and diet.  They divided the whole group into four smaller groups based on consumption of foods high in trans-fatty acids.

The group with the highest intake of trans fats were 86 percent more likely to have adenomas, the colon polyps that can develop into cancer.

When vegetable oils are processed or hydrogenated to increase the shelf life of baked goods, trans fats are produced.  They are commonly found in baked goods, crackers, cookies and snack foods.  Solid shortenings and some margarines also contain trans fats as do foods fried in them.

Trans fats raise levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol” in the blood which is associated with coronary heart disease.  However, they may work differently in the intestinal tract to increase polyps.  The FDA requires that trans fats be listed on the Nutrition Panel of food labels.

Lisa C. Vinakoor and her team at the University of North Carolina concluded,

These results suggest that consumption of high amounts of trans-fatty acid may increase the risk of colorectal neoplasia, and they provide additional support to recommendations to limit trans-fatty acid consumption.

SOURCE: Vinakoor et al., American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 6, Number 3, August 1, 2008.

More information from Reuters Health.

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