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Trans Fats May Raise Stroke Risk in Older Women
Date:3/1/2012

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) - Here's one more reason to avoid trans fats in your diet, especially if you are an older woman: A new study found a 39 percent increased risk of stroke among postmenopausal women who ate the highest amount of this common ingredient in baked goods, fast food and packaged products.

The research, done at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, did find that women who took aspirin regularly had a significantly reduced stroke risk.

But the study author stressed that the second discovery does not mitigate the first.

"The findings don't mean that you can eat trans fats and just take an aspirin," said Dr. Ka He, who added that the study showed an association and not a cause-and-effect relationship between aspirin use and lower incidence of strokes. He compared it to thinking that a smoker "could just exercise" to cancel the effect of cigarettes.

Men, who were not included in the study, are less likely to benefit from aspirin due to a gender influence that is not yet fully understood, He said.

"We recommend a reduced intake of trans fats" to avoid heart disease and stroke, added He, an associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability among adults in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

Strokes occur when an artery carrying blood to the brain is either blocked or bursts, cutting off the flow of blood and oxygen. As a result, brain cells start to die. Strokes can affect speech, motor skills or cognitive functions, depending on which part of the brain is damaged.

Risk factors for strokes include obesity, smoking, hypertension and lack of exercise. Drinking too much alcohol, or none at all, is also associated with strokes.

In the UNC study, which
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