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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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