Background and design: The hypothesis that diets rich in total and saturated fat and poor in unsaturated fats increase the risk for cardiovascular disease is still vividly debated. The aim of this study was to examine whether total fat, saturated fat, or unsaturated fat intakes are independent risk factors for cardiovascular events in a large population-based cohort.
Methods: 28 098 middle-aged individuals (61% women) participated in the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study between 1991 and 1996. In this analysis, individuals with an earlier history of cardiovascular disease were excluded. With adjustments made for confounding by age and various anthropometric, social, dietary, and life-style factors, hazard ratios (HR) were estimated for individuals categorized by quartiles of fat intake [HR (95% confidence interval, CI), Cox's regression model].
Results: No trend towards higher cardiovascular event risk for women or men with higher total or saturated fat intakes, was observed. Total fat: HR (95% CI) for fourth quartile was 0.98 (0.77-1.25) for women, 1.02 (0.84-1.23) for men; saturated fat: 0.98 (0.71-1.33) for women and 1.05 (0.83-1.34) for men. Inverse associations between unsaturated fat intake and cardiovascular event risk were not observed.
Conclusions: In relation to risks of cardiovascular events, our results do not suggest any benefit from a limited total or saturated fat intake, nor from relatively high intake of unsaturated fat.