A new study by the French INSERM research agency confirms that hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils present in industrial processed food double the risk of breast cancer

In Anticancer: A New Way of Life, I drew your attention to the strong correlation between the presence of hydrogenated oils in processed food and the statistical increase in cardiovascular pathologies, inflammatory syndromes and also some cancers. The two curves are strangely similar, but when I wrote the book no study had actually yet proved that there is indeed a link between hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats (indicated in the list of ingredients of processed foods) and an increased risk of developing certain cancers – particular the number one cancer in women, cancer of the breast.

Now such a study has been published.

INSERM has just released research demonstrating that the risk of breast cancer almost doubles among women who have high blood levels of trans fatty acids (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats). These are the oils we find in the most common processed foods: bread, pastries and processed cakes that are not made of butter; potato chips and other processed hors d-oeuvres; prepared pizza dough; cake mix, etc.

In 2006 a team from Harvard published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine which concluded that, from a nutritional point of view, the consumption of trans fatty acids is likely to lead to considerable potential damage. Since then, several health authorities have banned trans fatty acids from restaurants and products sold in supermarkets. They are, for example, completely forbidden in Denmark.

The results of this new study of 25,000 women are sufficiently significant that we should act on its conclusion. All of us need to know what precautions to take in our own diet. We need to read the list of ingredients on the label of the foods we buy in supermarkets. We should avoid products that contain hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Purchase instead products that are “pure butter” or which use olive oil and rapeseed oil. We should also increase our consumption of fish. Studies done in Asia (where consumption of fish is considerably higher than in the West) show that omega-3s are partially effective in protecting against the damaging effect of omega-6 oils, and perhaps even those of trans fatty acids.

These products double our risk of cancer; it’s worth spending a moment or two reading the labels of the foods we buy, and it’s worth simply increasing our weekly fish intake so as to counteract their effects.