After Menopause Trans Fat Intake Ups Risk

High trans fat consumption raises stroke risk among postmenopausal women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) High consumption of trans fats such as fried or processed foods may catch up with women later in life. Postmenopausal women who indulge in higher amounts of trans fats appear to be at an increased risk of stroke.

Aspirin use may successfully lower this added risk of ischemic stroke in women after menopause.

Previous studies have not found a link between trans fats and increased stroke risk, though heart disease has been tied to higher consumption levels.

"Talk to your doctor about how to lessen your stroke risk."

Dr. Ka He, study author and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, said that the findings confirm that postmenopausal women who consume more trans fats are at a higher risk of ischemic stroke, though he noted that aspirin could reduce the adverse effects.

Researchers analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study, a prospective cohort study of 87,025 women between the ages 50 and 79 in generally good health. Participants filled out food frequency questionnaires at the beginning of the study and again three years later.

In the questionnaires, women were asked about how often they ate certain foods related to fat consumption from meat, dairy, cooking and lower fat foods, as well as portion sizes during a three month period.

Investigators found the women suffered 1,049 incidents of ischemic stroke over 663,041 person years of follow up. They discovered that those who consumed the most trans fats at more than 6.1 grams a day were 39 percent more likely to suffer a stroke as compared to women who consumed 2.2 grams a day or less.

However, aspirin was found to lessen the increased stroke risk stemming from higher consumption of trans fats. Researchers suggest a diet low in trans fats with the addition of aspirin to reduce the risk of stroke after menopause.

In addition researchers identified 101 atherotherombotic, 234 cardioembolic and 269 lacunar infarctions, with another 445 unspecified cases. After adjusting for lifestyle and dietary factors, they also concluded that trans fat intake was associated with a higher risk of lacunar infarction, or small vessel disease in the brain.

This study, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, was recently published in journal Annals of Neurology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 1, 2012
Last Updated:
March 2, 2012