ELIMINATE TRANS-FATS (Cut Healthcare Costs)

Started 5 March 2005; Updated 21 October 2005

     The incidence of cardiovascular disease in general and in association with the use of some drugs are suddenly in the media.  They have been rising for years since we started substituting “healthier” cooking oils for saturated fat.  Unfortunately, we saturated ourselves with hydrogenated oils in the process.  These are the Trans-Fats which are present in most packaged foods, baked foods, cooking oils, margarines, shortening, non-dairy coffee creamers, etc.

      Complications from anticholesterol agents are rising.  Other disorders such as obesity, Diabetes, cancers, degenerative diseases, Immune Dysfunction related problems, and Alsheimers Disease are rising.  Tran-Fats are almost unavoidable unless you plan to stop eating and they are well hidden in food labels specially in restaurant menus, Deli items of groceries, friends’ recipes and Canola Oil and other hydrogenated oil literature.

     Before I retired, I was exasperated with my patients’ constantly rising triglcerides in the absence of excess alcohol, nuts, sweets and other supposedly usual dietary sources.  Fats we eat are converted to triglycerides in the stomach.  They are supposed to be metabolized to bile acids after absorption and then excreted in that form by the GI Tract.

     Trans-Fats when readily available get used more often for cell repair.  The phospholipid walls they get incorporated into get less permeable to substances needed for ALL metabolism.  Some cell reaction partners do NOT meet.  Some cell reactions do NOT get done.  Some processes such as glucose and protein, etc. related metabolic processes do not get properly accomplished.   Triglycerides do not break down as efficiently.  Defective HDL with unhydrogenated Monounsaturated fats replaced by Trans-Fats does not allow easy entry and exit of LDL into it thus slowing to stopping transport and elimination of the bad Cholesterol, LDL.  Cancer deterring reactions get faulty and may allow cancer to get started or get worse.  Reactive oxidative stress by products accumulate in joints, connective tissues, skin, brain, ETC. causing pathological changes and disorders.  ***A recent study showed that women who regularly ate French Fries in the past were 27% more prone to develop breast cancer.  There is no red meat in Fries.  It is NOT usual for fast food establishments to use UNHYDROGENATED, MONOUNSATURATED oil or low temperatures to produce them.

     Furthermore, Trans-Fats destroy the ability of Alpha Linoleic Acid in Omega 3 fatty acids to produce DHA which is the precursor of good prostaglandins.  So we have even less ammunition to battle the excess bad prostaglandins resulting from a predominance of Omega 6 fatty acids in our diets.  Good prostaglndins are   anti-inflammatory, anticlotting, antispasmodic, vasodilatory, etc..  Bad prostaglandins are proinflammatory, spasmodic, proclotting, vasoconstrictive, etc. 

     ***As more and more painful and more disabling disorders occur, more effective drugs are needed and consumed.  Gastro-intestinal bleeding is a common side effect of this group of drugs.

***Since it became apparent that the battle against Cholesterol was a losing or lost one, new agents were invented to lower the blood Cholesterol level a new way.  Since defective HDL did not eliminate them, receptors (biological magnets) for the bad fat were increased in different cells of the body where Cholesterol may be needed.  Cholesterol then was often almost adequately moved from blood vessel walls where they can promote clotting.  ***However, the usual storage areas were already packed from years of accumulation.  The organs involved showed abnormal function or failure.  Furthermore, Cholesterol is a building block for steroids and hormones.  Estrogen production is thus possible beyond menopause.  This is a very logical explanation for why postmenopausal women develop primary and/or recurrent breast cancer as well as the overall increased incidence of the disease.

     Various drugs exaggerate very specific actions of some good or bad prostaglandins.  For instance, Vioxx was made to be not only more effective but also to prevent the bleeding problem. The anti-clotting effect of the smaller group of good prstaglandins was negated and the clotting effect of the disproportionately larger group of bad prostaglandins was inadvertently enhanced resulting in heart attacks. 

     Estrogen delayed the onset of occurrence of heart attack in premenopausal women.  Hence it was concluded that Estrogen replacement would delay further or lessen that catastrophe in postmenopausal women.  It appeared to do so for decades.  Recently however, heart attacks were found to be increased in women receiving both Estrogen and Progestin compared to those taking placebo pills. Breast cancers, strokes and blood clots were also increased.  However, these women had less hip fractures, an increase in bone density within three years of study, fewer colorectal and endometrial (uterine lining) carcinoma.  On July 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative announced that participants receiving both Estrogen and Progestin were told to stop their study pills because it was determined that the risks outweigh the benefits.  An associated study, The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, found that women taking hormones had a higher risk for Dementia.  The women receiving Estrogen alone (no Progestin) were at this time allowed to continue their study pills.  However, these women were also later asked to stop their study pills due to an increased incidence of strokes.

     Progestin was traditionally added to the Estrogen regimen to prevent the uterine lining from developing carcinoma while under the influence of Estrogen.  The study results concurred with that.  However, the combination of two drugs more than doubled the variety of adverse results as a more complicated mix of interactions with the Trans-Fat adversely altered body and predominance of bad prostaglandins occurred.  As more new drugs are manufactured to counteract Trans-Fat related problems, we may face an increase in more baffling and more serious side effects.

     Trans-Fats are proving to be dangerous with hidden side effects that cost lives and dollars.  Eliminate them from our diet before they eliminate us.

    ***Benecol was invented to satisfy the need for a butter/margarine substitute.  It is made of poorly absorbed plant sterols that were HYDROGENATED, then esterified with fatty acids and became stanols.  They were mixed with oil to produce a spread.  It has less than 0.5 gm TRANS-FAT per serving.   It takes multiple servings to reach the 2 - 3 gms. stanol/day to produce the desired effect on blood Cholesterol level   Plant sterols lower CHOLESTEROL by reducing the absorption of Cholesterol from the small intestines.  They are present in small amounts in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, natural cereals, legumes, and vegetable oils, specially soybean oil.  In the USA. soybean oil is usually hydrogenated.  We CANNOT consume it in that form to lower Cholesterol.  Another loss to TRANS-FATS !!!.

     ***10-21-05: There is a move to require food labels to state the amount of TRANS-FATS in foods.  However, this is being challenged by small companies.  The option to send e-mail comments has been extended to 3 December 2005.  In the meantime, the Canola OIL producers made the Natreon variety which supposedly is in step with the proposal to reduce TRANS-FATS to as low a level as possible in addition to lessening saturated fats.  The regular Canola oil variety may stay the same (HYDROGENATED).  Also, it is imperative to increase the intake of UNHYDROGENATED, virgin monounsaturated fats such as olive, peanut, avocado, etc. and Omega 3 fatty acids found in cold water fish, nuts, flaxseed oil, etc. to replace the defective fats on the walls and membranes of our cells to eventually restore them to decent function.  It may take a long time.


Magdalena D. Guerrero, M.D., FACOG, GP, retired (dr G)

Constructed 5 March 2005

Last Updated 7 August 2006