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94-year-old crusader seeks ban on trans fats in the American diet

August 24, 2015

The food oil industry reluctantly agreed to lower the trans fatty acid content and increase essential fatty acids in its products. That change coincided with a dramatic decline in coronary heart disease mortality after 1968. Kummerow believes the decline in the dietary intake of trans fats and the increase in linoleic acid could explain at least part of the reduction in mortality due to heart disease.

To reinforce his message, Kummerow keeps in his lab a sample of human arteries that are clogged with atherosclerotic plaque. Another unfortunate characteristic of trans fats is that they cause cells to increase calcium in the blood, which builds up in and narrows the arteries, the main symptom of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis makes the arteries "look like old scrub boards," Kummerow said. "They look corrugated. This corrugation builds up to the point where it will stop blood flow."

Kummerow's petition was filed Aug. 7, 2009. The FDA has 180 days to respond.

"According to American Heart Association data, nearly 2,400 Americans die of heart disease each day," Kummerow said. "This statistic shows the importance of a quick response."

The full petition is also available at news.illinois/WebsandThumbs/kummerow,fred/FDA-petition.pdf

Source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign