It would seem that trans-fats could actually increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, a group of researchers has observed that women who had a high concentration of these types of fat in the blood had double the risk of suffering from breast cancer, compared to women who had lower blood concentrations of trans-fats. On the other hand, it would seem that a high blood concentration of omega-3s, particularly found in fatty fish, does not protect from this type of tumour. We do know however that for a woman, obesity and a diet that has a high fat content are two of the factors also associated with a higher risk of suffering from breast cancer.
The fats found in food can be divided into four different types of fatty acids – polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated and trans-fat. Trans-fats naturally occur in small concentrations in certain animal-based foods, but they can also be created during the industrial processing of oils as they are being transformed into semi-hardened fats (hydrogenization), such is the case with products like shortening (lard) and hard margarine. Trans-fats are also often found in processed baked goods, snacks and a variety of prepared foods.
Even though Canadians do not eat as much fat as they did 20 years ago, they still consume great amounts of trans-fats and saturated fats. Today however, we now know that saturated fats and trans-fats in our food can increase our risk of heart disease by causing blockages in our arteries and blood vessels. It is possible to reduce this risk by limiting our consumption of foods that contain industrial trans-fats. To know if a particular food contains any trans-fats, you simply need to read the nutritional label on the packaging.