CHAMPAIGN, Ill. "I request to ban trans fats from the American diet."
Thus begins a 3,000-word petition to the Food and Drug Administration, the work of a man on a dogged, decades-old crusade to eradicate trans fats from food.
Fred Kummerow, a 94-year-old University of Illinois veterinary biosciences professor emeritus who still conducts research on the health effects of trans fats in the diet, filed the petition with the FDA last month. The petition is now posted on the FDA Web site, and public comments are invited. (See below for information on viewing the petition and making a comment.)
"Everybody should read my petition because it will scare the hell out of them," Kummerow said.
Trans fats contribute to the two main causes of heart disease: blood clots in the coronary arteries that can lead to sudden death from a heart attack, and atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries that interferes with blood flow, he said. Trans fats are also known to increase low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in the blood and to spur inflammation, both of which contribute to heart disease.
Trans fats displace the essential fatty acids linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3), which the body needs for a variety of functions. Kummerow's own research, published last month in the journal Atherosclerosis, found that trans fats also interfere with the function of a key enzyme essential to blood flow regulation.
An earlier study from Kummerow's lab found that pregnant sows fed a diet that included trans fats passed significant quantities of the trans fats to their offspring during nursing. The piglets' plasma levels of trans fats increased from 5 percent three days after birth to 15.3 percent at 6 weeks of age.
Kummerow believes the FDA's requirement (begun in 2006) that trans fats be included on food labels is inadequate and misleading. Anything less than one-half gram of trans fats per ser
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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign