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News - Trans fats may increase endometriosis risk

By Holly Taylor BSc(Hons) DipCNM MBANT

Endometriosis is a prevalent gynaecological disorder for which few modifiable risk factors have been identified. However, fish oil consumption has been associated with symptom improvement in studies of women with primary dysmenorrhoea and with decreased endometriosis risk in animal studies. Now, research reported in the journal Human Reproduction supports the theory that trans fats may also play a role in the onset of endometriosis in women. 

A research team made up of scientists from various medical schools and universities in Boston have been investigating the relationship between dietary fat intake and the risk of endometriosis, by analysing 12 years of prospective data from 70,709 women taking part in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Dietary fat intake was assessed and averaged from food frequency questionnaire data, from three separate years. Data was adjusted for total energy intake, parity, race and body mass index.

During the 12-year follow-up period, 1,199 cases of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis were reported. Although total fat consumption was not associated with endometriosis risk, those women with the highest intakes of omega 3 fatty acids were 22% less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis, compared with those with the lowest intake. In addition, those with the highest intake of trans fats were 48% more likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis. 

The authors concluded that: “These data suggest that specific types of dietary fat are associated with the incidence of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis, and that these relations may indicate modifiable risk.” They also stated: “This evidence provides another disease association that supports efforts to remove trans-unsaturated fats from the food supply.”

Article References

Missmer SA et al. (2010) A prospective study of dietary fat consumption and endometriosis risk. Human Reproduction. Epub ahead of print.

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