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Trans Fat Ban Scam


Do We REALLY Need a "Trans Fat Ban"?

By now you've probably read that restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and elsewhere are facing a "ban" that effectively outlaws hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated ("trans fat") oils. Food producers are being similarly mandated to use only polyunsaturated fats instead of "trans fats" in their products. Since "everyone knows" that trans fats are bad, such a ban might seem like a good idea. But the science this is based on is thin, and the implications for unnecessary government regulations are enormous. It looks to me like we are being sold another Big Fat Lie about fats.

Trans fats are a type of fat found only in minute quantities in nature. They do not occur naturally in the body or in unprocessed food in any significant amount. When trans fats are
consumed in the diet, they can alter cell membranes in an unfavorable way. There is evidence that trans fats are associated with increased risk of atherosclerosis ("hardening of the arteries"), although other studies suggest that the danger is "dose related." My research agrees that trans fats are bad news. In our house we call them "Franken Fats"
(after Frankenstein--- an unnatural creature--- from TRANSylvania, a pun that is remote at best, I realize). Unnatural trans fats change the way normal cells behave (not in a good way), and there is evidence that if we eat enough of them, we may be at higher risk for heart attack. Trans fats raise "bad cholesterol" (LDL) and lower "good cholesterol (HDL). OK, so trans fats clearly aren't a health food. But "banned"? I think we're going too far.

Government bureaucrats, aided and abetted by well-meaning but under-informed citizen groups, are seeking to mandate that everyone from restaurateurs to potato-chip manufacturers stop using trans fats in cooking. Since high dietary intake of trans fats is associated with higher heart disease risk, this sounds like a reasonable public health measure, right? Let's look at some hard, cold facts about this dangerous lie that the conventional media has glossed over...

Fats and Freedom: What's Health Got To Do With It?

First let's think about the "freedom of choice" issue. You know --- as in, "sugar and simple carbohydrate consumption is highly associated with the development of diabetes and obesity, but I support your right as a free American to eat cookies and candy if you choose to."

Clearly, some substances in food are outright lethal and should be banned. E.coli bacteria-contaminated food, aflatoxin contaminated peanut butter--- these are outright poisons that cause swift and often severe damage (including death!) in most people who consume them. Protecting our food supply from outright toxins is sensible, and really what the "Food" part of "Food and Drug Administration (FDA)" is supposed to do. You'll find no argument from me on this score.

But there are numerous "associations" where the evidence is weaker, and where the health-hazard of the substance is "dose related." Sugar is associated with diabetes --- should we ban all foods containing sugar? Cigarettes are associated with lung cancer --- should we outlaw tobacco? Alcohol is associated with fatal traffic accidents and liver cirrhosis --- should we reenact prohibition? Too much water can cause water intoxication, a potentially lethal condition that a young Sacramento woman died from just last week. Should we ban drinking water, or at least government-regulate intake?

What ever happened to "informed consent"? If you know that high doses of sugar may not be healthy, you make your choice about when and how much to eat--- or whether to eat it at all. If you know that alcohol impairs driving ability, you don't drink and drive. If you know that tobacco smoking can cause lung cancer, you "pays your money and takes your chances" if you decide to smoke. But maybe the "food do-gooders" are right. Perhaps we should just ban EVERYTHING that has a known "association" (which means it might not be the cause) of a disease. Of course, that won't leave us much to eat... or much ""American freedom" to be proud of...but not to worry. I understand there are a lot of good ways to prepare textured vegetable protein...

How Embarrassing --- Even the Canadians Got Trans Fats Right

OK, I won't comment on how the socialist, nanny-state of Canada did better on the Trans Fat issue than we are doing in the US; I'll let my Canadian born and bred husband, Nurse Mark, have a shot at this one, to wit:

"In spite of the 'nanny state' bureaucracy and the overbearing 'we're-from-the-government-and-we-know-best' attitude of my Mother Country, Canada may have dealt better with trans fat issue than the US is doing. As Dr. Myatt points out, 'they' (Canada) may have gotten it right on this issue.

In 2003, the Canadian government recognized that trans fats have negative health associations. Not worse, mind you, than many other "legal" foods like refined sugar, but apparent negative health consequences none-the-less. Instead of banning trans fats outright, Canada simply required manufacturers to list the amount of trans fats on food labels. Not a bad idea when you think of it. Tell people that there are trans fats in food and trans fats present potential health problems, just like sugar and a lot of other
'manufactured foods,' and let them decide for themselves whether they want to eat it or not.

What happened? People read the studies and the labels and made their decisions, significantly decreasing their intake of trans fats. Manufacturers responded as they do in a free market: they reduced the amounts of trans fats in foods until people started buying them again. This, I believe, is an example of government functioning as it should: setting standards, educating the public, requiring full disclosure from manufacturers and allowing people and the marketplace to dictate to the manufacturers rather than the other way around. Required labeling of trans fats worked well in Canada, without bans, prohibitions or unjustified restrictions to freedom." --- Nurse Mark's 10cents worth

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

OK, I'm a big fan of freedom, but that's just me. Even if you don't give a sweet tweet about the "health freedoms" issue at stake, you might find the actual health implications alarming.

Instead of using partially hydrogenated fats, producers will now be using polyunsaturated fats (abbreviated PUFA's), since saturated fats were wrongly maligned several decades ago in a scam of Watergate proportions. (We'll reveal this scam in a future issue of HealthBeat). Polyunsaturated fats do not contain trans fats, so bye bye trans fats when we replace hydrogenated fats with PUFA's.

However, PUFA's are fragile fats, and they break down into a number of toxic chemicals when heated: peroxides, hydrocarbons, aromatic compounds, oxidized sterols and others. These byproducts from heated PUFA's have both acute (immediate) and chronic toxic effects, some as bad or possibly worse than the trans fats they will be replacing. By trading hydrogenated fats for PUFA's in any type of high-heat cooking or frying, we are simply trading one health hazard for another.

The new "ban" and subsequent government regulations will no doubt go a long way to eliminate trans fats from the US food supply, remove another freedom of choice, and improve the safety of our diets NOT ONE WHIT. We are trading one potentially dangerous substance for multiple others. Why not just require that foods with trans fats be labeled as such, and let the consumer decide on the acceptable level of risk? After all, there are other studies which do not implicate trans fats as a health hazard when consumed in moderate amounts. (Ah, that ol' "dose factor" rears it's ugly head again).

Instead, the under-informed and unsuspecting populace will read labels that say "no trans fats" and think to themselves "Hallelujah! I believe I'm eating a healthier food! I believe my
government is taking care of my health by further limiting my choices! I believe that I can now eat all the potato chips I want as long as they don't have trans fats and I will stay healthy! Hallelujah, I Believe!"

Don't be fooled by "no trans fat" labels. Fried foods may be just as unhealthy cooked in polyunsaturated oils as they are in trans fats. Trading trans fats for heated PUFA's has no clear proven health benefit.

HealthBeat News Conclusion: The "trans fat ban" is smoke and mirrors, designed to make you think the government is protecting your food supply while really it is just restricting yet another health freedom. All this with meager "evidence," and a "replacement fat" (PUFA's) that may be more deadly than what they are replacing.

Who Can You Trust?

The conventional media doesn't report news, it tells stories that sell advertising. Much of what we read in the newspaper and "laymen's press" is not unbiased reporting, it's corporate and government-sponsored gobbledygook. Modern media mixes traces of truth with high-dose hype and hyperbole, intended to "sell" ideas and products, not present facts. For people who only want to be entertained and not informed, this type of "news" is probably enough. After all, spoon-fed, pre-digested pseudo-science doesn't place any strain on one's thinking processes!

But what about the select group of people who would rather face facts, do their own thinking and make up their own minds? (A radically old-fashioned concept, I realize). Where will these people (and you, if you are in this group), get unbiased, referenced and factually-defensible reporting?

Welcome to the new "HealthBeat News," your source for thought-provoking, life-saving information and the references you need to research and draw your own conclusions. You don't have to take our word for the "punch line." We encourage readers to be free-thinkers and draw their own conclusions, hence the "new and improved" reference section with each edition.

Some Parting Thoughts on Trans Fats

Do I think trans fats are healthy? No. Do I think that everything that is not healthy for us should be banned or government regulated? No. Somehow I still believe that people can and should be given enough information to make up their own minds, and the freedom to do so.

Only saturated fats are safe for frying and cooking, but unless you've been living in a cave, you've heard for decades that "saturated fats are bad." You won't believe how this grievous falsehood (aka "outright lie") came about, but we'll fill you in in an upcoming edition of HealthBeat.

Until then, our best advice is stay outta' the potato and corn chips no matter what they're fried in, at least until saturated fats make a "health comeback"!

Off to Eat Some Non-Trans, Non-PUFA Chicharrones,

Dr. Dana Myatt
with irreverent Canadian commentary by Nurse Mark


1.) HEALTH EFFECTS OF OXIDIZED HEATED OILS. Food Research International, Volume 13 Issue 1 Page 41 - October 2001. From the abstract: "Heat degrades polyunsaturated fatty acids to toxic compounds. These toxic compounds are related to...atherosclerosis, the forerunner to cardiovascular disease; inflammatory joint disease, including rheumatoid arthritis; pathogenic conditions of the digestive tract; mutagenicity and genotoxicity, properties that often signal carcinogenesis; and teratogenicity, the property of chemicals that leads to the development of birth defects." MI Summary: Heated PUFA's--- the "new and safer" cooking oils, may be as bad or worse than trans fats for health.

2.) Stearic acid-rich interesterified fat and trans-rich fat raise the LDL/HDL ratio and plasma glucose relative to palm olein in humans. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2007 Jan 15;4(1):3. Summary: One study which shows that trans fats raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol.

3.) The relation between trans fatty acid levels and increased risk of myocardial infarction does not hold at lower levels of trans fatty acids in the Costa Rican food supply. J Nutr. 2006 Nov;136(11):2887-92. MI Summary: some studies have found that the risk of trans-fats appear dose related (as do many things, even water). At smaller doses, no adverse health effects due to dietary trans fats were noted.

4.) Trans fatty acids in adipose tissue and the food supply are associated with myocardial infarction. J Nutr. 2004 Apr;134(4):874-9. MI Summary: Trans fats may indeed be associated with increased MI, and I don't think they're healthy. But the fact is the high doses of Omega-6 PUFA's (the common oils that many people are switching back to), are ALSO associated with increased risk of heart disease.

5.) Trans fatty acids in human milk in Canada declined with the introduction of trans fat food labeling. J Nutr. 2006 Oct;136(10):2558-61. Conclusion: labeling trans fat content in foods decreased their intake. People who could make a choice did so.

6.) The effect of weight loss and dietary fatty acids on inflammation. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2006 Nov;8(6):477-86. Conclusion: weight loss decreases atherosclerotic-causing inflammation better than any dietary fatty acid manipulation including decrease of trans fats. Dr. Myatt's comment: so instead of regulating decreased trans fats, why don't we demand that everyone achieve a normal weight?

7.) Behavioural treatments for chronic systemic inflammation: effects of dietary weight loss and exercise training. CMAJ. 2005 Apr 26;172(9):1199-209. Conclusion: weight loss and exercise lower inflammation (and cardiac risk factors) more than any known dietary change.

8.) The scientific basis for TFA regulations-is it sufficient? Comments from the USA. Atheroscler Suppl. 2006 May;7(2):69-71. Epub 2006 May 22. MI Comment and summary: This comes from the Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA (may we all bow our heads for a moment of silence in admiration of this supposed-to-be important and impartial institution). Their comments about "30,000 deaths per year" attributable to trans fats has no reference that I can find anywhere. Maybe you can make up facts when you are Harvard?

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