Saturated Fatty Acid Type Associated with Risk for MI

Saturated fatty acid type, particularly carbon chain-length, demonstrated an association with the risk for myocardial infarction (MI), according to new study results.

Researchers for this cohort study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology, looked at data from 22,050 participants from EPIC-Norfolk (UK) and 53,375 from EPIC-Denmark in the study. Saturated fatty acid intake was assessed through questionnaires, and Cox regression analysis was employed to estimate associations between individual saturated fatty acids and MI risk. Median follow-up time was 18.8 years for the EPIC-Norfolk cohort and 13.6 years for the EPIC-Denmark cohort.

According to the results, 1,204 MI events occurred in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort and 2,260 in the EPIC-Denmark cohort. Following multivariate adjustment, lauric acid and myristic acid were both inversely associated with MI risk in the EPIC-Denmark cohort (HR for Upper vs. Lowest Quartile=0.80; 95% CI, 0.66 to 0.96 for both saturated fatty acids). In addition, the researchers reported that the substitution of palmitic acid and stearic acid with plant proteins resulted in reduced risk for MI. They did not report these associations in the EPIC-Norfolk cohort.

Our study only allowed us to draw conclusions on the level of associations between saturated fatty acids and the development of myocardial infarction,” Ivonne Sluijs, PhD, of the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, said in a press release. “We do not know whether those fatty acids are actually the cause of differences between the occurrences of myocardial infarction we observed.”

“The study is applaudable for its large size, prospective cohort study design, and detailed assessment of diet and lifestyle factors. In addition, it is among the few studies that specifically examined individual saturated fatty acids in relation to coronary heart disease risk and compared with different macronutrients,” Jun Li, MD, PhD, and Qi Sun, MD, ScD, both at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Source: International Journal of Cardiology