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Trans Fat Bans Reduce Heart Disease Deaths: Study

New-Regulation-Says-No-More-Trans-FatBy Tanya Basu

Deaths from cardiovascular disease plummeted.

Nutritional bans have incited controversy: Who is the government to tell people what they can or can’t eat? Should governments be allowed to go so far as to enforce nutritional laws? Do they even work?

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Denmark’s trans fat ban—which that country implemented in 2004—found that the bans do work. After a decade, Denmark showed remarkable improvement: Cardiovascular disease mortality rates plummeted.

First: a reminder of what trans fats are. Trans fats can be naturally occurring, and found in animal products like dairy and meat, or they can be artificially manufactured and tend to turn up in food frieds in hydrogenated oil (which is most fried food). The latter makes up the bulk of the trans fats that humans consume, and that worries experts. For food companies, these trans fats are a boon, extending shelf life and ensuring food tastes the same over time. But for humans, the fundamental change in molecules can spell disaster for the heart.

As we reported in August: “Scientists say that trans fats are linked to the highest rates of death from all causes, deaths from heart disease and heart problems. The trans fat risk surpassed even that associated with saturated fat, which is found in formerly taboo-for-the-heart foods like butter, eggs and red meat.”

Brandon Restrepo, who conducted the study as a postdoctoral researcher with the European University Institute, analyzed data about heart disease, stroke and mortality rates before and during the Danish trans fat ban.

“We knew there was a strong relationship between consumption of trans fats and cardiovascular disease,” Restrepo says. “What we wanted to do was evaluate whether policies led to a reduction in cardiovascular disease and mortality rates.”

Restrepo and his research partner tracked disease and mortality rates for Danes over the course of the decade, then compared them to a statistically similar group of five countries that they called “synthetic Denmark”: Estonia, Finland, Luxembourg, Mexico, and Spain. This synthetic group was chosen based on indicators like food expenditures per capita, alcohol consumption, systolic blood pressure and vegetable consumption.

Between 2003 and 2012, deaths caused by cardiovascular disease slid from 359.9 to 210.9 per 100,000 people, a 9-point drop. And in the period between 2004 and 2006, cardiovascular disease mortality rates dropped by 4%—the equivalent to 750 fewer deaths per year in that period.

The rate of cardiovascular disease mortality continued to fall after 2007, Restrepo told TIME, but Denmark added on anti-smoking laws that might add to increases in the drops of cardiovascular mortality rates.

Denmark’s success is good news for initiatives like New York City’s 2006 ban on trans fat. While studies have suggested that New York’s ban worked, the Danish model offers health policymakers proof that bans like these—whether they be for trans fat or things like sugar-sweetened soda or tobacco—may also work on the national level.

Austria, Iceland and Switzerland have implemented Dane-like laws between 2009 and 2011. And in June, the Food and Drug Administration moved to ban trans fats by 2018.

“This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year,” Dr. Stephen Ostroff, acting commissioner of the FDA, said at the time.

(from Time News Health)

Avocados can fight disease that kills 10K each year, study says

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
The unassuming avocado, so rich and delicious it’s often called nature’s butter, has been found to hold a key ingredient that could fight off one of the world’s most devastating diseases, Eureka Alert reports.

That disease is acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates will kill more than 10,000 people in 2015—roughly half the number of newly diagnosed cases.

Now Canadian professor Paul Spagnuolo says a lipid in avocados called avocatin B targets leukemia stem cells without damaging healthy cells. “It’s an exciting time for our lab,” he says.

“Not only does avocatin B eliminate the source of AML, but its targeted, selec
tive effects make it less toxic to the body, too.” Don’t hold your breath, though: Spagnuolo says the drug he’s designing is still years away.

There aren’t many drugs on the market for AML, a cancer that turns blood stem cells into abnormal ones, which then proliferate in the bone marrow, push out healthy cells, and cause infections that are often fatal.

Among seniors older than 65, the disease kills in more than 90% of cases within five years; the average age of an AML patient is 67.


“The stem cell is really the cell that drives the disease,” says Spagnuolo, whose new work appears in Cancer Research. “The stem cell is largely responsible for the disease developing and it’s the reason why so many patients with leukemia relapse.” The University of Waterloo professor is now seeking a commercial partnership so he can conduct clinical trials, where AML patients would take his drug for the first time.

(article courtesy of Fox News health)