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Trans Fat Linked to Pre-Cancerous Colon Growths

New research published in the August issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology links high intake of trans fat with an increased risk of colon cancer.

Trans fat can be found naturally in dairy products and meat but are also found in many vegetable oils. Trans fats don't occur naturally in plant oils but are formed when hydrogen is added to them to increase their shelf-life.

This is why trans fats are sometimes called hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oil on product labels. Some of the popular food sources that contain trans fat include margarines, salad dressings, crackers, pastries, cookies and many packaged foods.

The study, lead by Dr. Lisa C. Vinikoor of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, found that people who consumed high amounts of trans fat were more likely to have polyps in their colons than those who consumed less. Polyps are an abnormal growth of tissue that can be a risk factor for cancer.

The researchers analyzed data from 622 patients who had colonoscopies at University of North Carolina Hospitals in 2001 and 2002. The patients were interviewed and asked questions regarding their diet, physical activities, and other health issues.

After reviewing the data, researchers found that people who consumed the most trans fats (6.54g daily) were 86 percent more likely to have colon polyps than those who consumed the fewest amount (3.63g daily). Among the almost 39 percent of participants found to have colon polyps, the average trans fat intake was 4.97g.

These findings suggest that high intakes of trans fats may significantly increase the risk of colorectal polyps and provide another piece of evidence supporting recommendations to limit your consumption of trans fats (or hydrogenated oil as its called on some product labels).
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