Cutting trans fats from the diet may be especially important
for women of childbearing age who want to have children.
Eating these unhealthy fats has been strongly linked to an
increased risk for heart
disease. Now, new research suggests they also increase
a woman's risk of infertility.
In their study, nutrition
researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that
women with ovulation-related
problems tended to eat more trans fats than fertile women.
Obtaining just 2% of total calories from trans fats instead
of healthier monounsaturated fats was associated with a doubled
risk for this type of infertility.
In addition, each 2% increase in trans fat consumption as
a replacement for carbohydrates brought a 73% greater risk
of ovulation-related infertility, after adjusting for other
known and suspected infertility risk factors, according to
Lead author Jorge E. Chavarro, MD, ScD, stated the findings
must be confirmed.
But he says women planning pregnancies should be especially
vigilant about replacing trans fats, just in case.
"We do know that trans fats have a very deleterious effect
on heart disease and metabolism in general," Chavarro says.
"Avoiding trans fats is a good idea for many reasons, and
one of them may be reducing infertility risk," he says.
Trans Fats in the News
Thanks to a greater public awareness of the health risks
associated with trans fats, avoiding them may be much easier
for Americans in the near future.
KFC, Taco Bell, and Starbucks all recently announced they
would eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of trans fats
in their products, following the lead of restaurant chains
like Wendy's and Chili's.
And last month, New York City banned use of the fats in restaurants.
Chicago officials are said to be considering a similar move.
Fewer trans fats now lurk in the processed foods on supermarket
shelves, and the U.S. government has started making food manufacturers
list them on package labels.
But, Chavarro says, such labeling may still be misleading.
"You still have to read the labels of the foods you buy,"
he says. "If you see 'hydrogenated' or 'partially hydrogenated,'
that is a red flag."
Trans fats are liquid oils that are put through a chemical
process called hydrogenation to make them more solid and extend