In the first human study of its kind researchers have linked trans fatty acid consumption to increased aggression. Published in the Public Library of Science's own journal, PLoS, March 5th 2012, researchers at the Dept. of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, reported:
"Dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA) are primarily synthetic compounds that have been introduced only recently; little is known about their behavioral effects. dTFA inhibit production of omega-3 fatty acids, which experimentally have been shown to reduce aggression. Potential behavioral effects of dTFA merit investigation. We sought to determine whether dTFA are associated with aggression/irritability."
The study looked at 945 adult men and women who were not on lipid-lowering drugs, and who were without LDL-cholesterol extremes, diabetes, HIV, cancer or heart disease. Outcomes assessed adverse behaviors with impact on others based on both objective (life histories of aggression) and subjective (self-rated impatience and irritabilitly) sources of information. The researchers concluded:
"This study provides the first evidence linking dTFA [dietary trans fatty acids] with behavioral irritability and aggression."
This novel finding adds to a growing body of existing clinical research indicating that synthetically produced trans fatty acids adversely affect human health, particularly cardiovascular health and cancer risk.
Due to the fact that the human brain (excluding water) is composed mostly of fatty acids, it is understandable how synthetically produced trans fats could adversely affect brain and psychiatric health. In fact, a recent animal study demonstrated that long-term trans fatty acid feeding in animals contributed to the incorporation of these fats in the brain, leading to increased susceptibility of developing movement disorders.
Given that this most recent finding links trans fatty acid consumption to possibly violent behavior towards others, a serious legal and moral question is raised as to whether regulatory agencies like the FDA can continue to allow their production and use without being in some way responsible for the damage that is afflicted upon the general population as a consequence.
This same question can be raised in regard to the 300+ adverse health effects that statin drugs have been linked to, not the least of which is increased violent behavior towards self (suicide and parasuicide) and other, as a consequence of having low cholesterol. In the same way that trans fatty acids may alter the physiology (and therefore function) of the neurological tissue itself, low cholesterol levels reduces the number of serotonin receptors in the brain, which in turn lowers brain serotonin, making it more difficult to suppress aggressive behavior.