High levels of trans fats in blood linked to increased Alzheimer’s and dementia risk
Japan: Trans fats, considered bad for the heart, are also bad for the brain, a recently published study in the Neurology journal has found. According to the study, people having high levels of trans fats in the blood are at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Trans fats, added to processed foods increase the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol, are known to increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes has now been also linked to increased dementia risk. Meat and dairy products naturally contain small amounts of trans fats, but whether these fats raise bad cholesterol is unknown.
Toshiharu Ninomiya, a professor of public health at Kyushu University in Japan, and colleagues investigated the prospective association between serum elaidic acid (trans 18:1 n-9) levels, as an objective biomarker for industrial trans fat, and incident dementia and its subtypes.
The study involved 1,628 men and women aged 60 and older who were free of dementia. They were followed prospectively from when they underwent a screening examination in 2002–2003 to November 2012 (median 10.3 years, interquartile range 7.2–10.4 years). Serum elaidic acid levels were measured using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and divided into quartiles.
Key findings include:
- During the follow-up, 377 participants developed some type of dementia (247 AD, 102 vascular dementia).
- Higher serum elaidic acid levels were significantly associated with a greater risk of developing all-cause dementia and AD after adjustment for traditional risk factors.
- These associations remained significant after adjustment for dietary factors, including total energy intake and intakes of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- No significant associations were found between serum elaidic acid levels and vascular dementia.
"The study is observational so cannot prove cause and effect. It is difficult to avoid trans fats completely, and the risk of a small amount of trans fats is unclear,” said Dr. Ninomiya. “But it would be better to try to avoid them as much as possible.”
"The findings suggest that higher serum elaidic acid is a possible risk factor for the development of all-cause dementia and AD in later life. Public health policy to reduce industrially-produced trans-fatty acids may assist in the primary prevention of dementia," concluded the authors.
More Information: "Serum elaidic acid concentration and risk of dementia: The Hisayama Study" published in the Neurology journal.
Journal Information: Neurology