Background: Evidence on the relation between trans fatty acid intake and coronary heart disease is limited. We investigated this relation in a Dutch population with a fairly high trans fatty acid intake, including trans fatty acids from partly hydrogenated fish oils.
Methods: We prospectively studied 667 men of the Zutphen Elderly Study aged 64-84 years and free of coronary heart disease at baseline. We used dietary surveys to establish the participants' food consumption patterns. Information on risk factors and diet was obtained in 1985, 1990, and 1995. After 10 years of follow-up from 1985-95, there were 98 cases of fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease.
Findings: Between 1985 and 1995, average trans fatty acid intake decreased from 4.3% to 1.9% of energy. After adjustment for age, body mass index, smoking, and dietary covariates, trans fatty acid intake at baseline was positively associated with the 10-year risk of coronary heart disease. The relative risk for a difference of 2% of energy in trans fatty acid intake at baseline was 1.28 (95% CI 1.01-1.61).
Interpretation: A high intake of trans fatty acids (all types of isomers) contributes to the risk of coronary heart disease. The substantial decrease in trans fatty acid intake, mainly due to industrial lowering of trans contents in Dutch edible fats, could therefore have had a large public-health impact.