A European study shows that Trans-fatty acids found in meat, dairy products, bakery products, pizza, and other highly processed industrial products increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
Trans-fatty acids are a type of fatty acid that occurs naturally in milk, meat, and animal fats. They are found in industrial products such as pastries, pizzas, quiches… They are also found in overcooked foods such as grilled foods. Scientists from the Lyon-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) have studied the link between individual fatty acid intake from different food sources and the risk of developing ovarian cancer. “Although some smaller studies have already suggested a possible link between trans fatty acid intake and the risk of ovarian cancer, the evidence was not yet conclusive,” said Dr. Inge Huybrechts, an IARC scientist and one of the authors of the study.
The eighth leading cause of cancer death in women
The European study by IARC shows that trans fatty acids are associated with a high risk of ovarian cancer. To reach these conclusions, the researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, which includes 1,486 cases of ovarian cancer. They analyzed the individual trans fatty acid intake in the diet of these patients. “Industrial trans fatty acids are already associated with a risk of obesity and increased inflammation in the body,” said Dr. Véronique Chajès of IARC, co-author of this paper. These two elements are already risk factors for ovarian cancer, which probably explains, at least in part, this new link”.
Previous studies have shown a link between this dietary intake and the risk of breast cancer and prostate and colon cancer. “These new findings are consistent with the World Health Organization’s recommendation to eliminate these artificial elements from industrial food products,” said Dr. Marc Gunter, head of IARC’s Nutrition and Metabolism Division. This study provides new evidence that reducing the consumption of industrially processed foods, including fast food, could help reduce the risk of ovarian cancer and many other chronic diseases, including other cancers associated with increased consumption of industrial trans fatty acids.
In 2018, 295,414 new cases of ovarian cancer were reported, making it the eighth most common cause of cancer death in women. “As the incidence of ovarian cancer increases worldwide, there is an urgent need for prevention strategies,” conclude the researchers, noting however that “few preventable factors have been identified.”