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food-question-markAs if trans fats aren’t bad enough as it is, now they could be making us forgetful? That’s what researchers from the University of California San Diego determined recently after completing a study that included nearly 700 men age 20 and older.

The more dietary trans fats they consumed each day, the more difficulty they had with memory—specifically, word memory. Those who ate the most trans fats (about 15 grams per day) recalled approximately 0.76 fewer words, which translated to about 11 or 12 fewer words out of a total of 86. That’s about a 10% drop in memory, researchers point out.

In addition, there was evidence to support an association between higher trans fat consumption and worse memory performance in young adults, said lead author Dr. Beatrice Golomb in a recent article. She added that this was an important point because those are often key “career-building” years.

As to why or how trans fats affect memory, researchers speculate the unhealthy fats may infiltrate healthy cells—including brain cells—and disrupt their function, but more research is planned to support this theory. Findings from the UCSD study were presented last month at the American Heart Association conference in Chicago.

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brain-toxinsIn yet another study about the damaging effects of toxic chemicals on human health, researchers in Canada have found evidence that everyday toxins may be negatively impacting our intelligence, beginning as early as infancy.

Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, says the accumulation of toxins in the body can directly affect the intelligence quotient (IQ) of developing minds. He and his colleagues point to toxic flame retardants (commonly used in furniture and upholstery) as well as bisphenol A (BPA), lead, organophosphate pesticides and mercury as some of the culprits.

Even in small amounts—as little as a few hundred parts per billion, says Lanphear—such chemicals can impact the early brain development of children and lower IQ by as much as five to nine points. Further, the findings suggest kids with the highest levels of exposure may not reach peak intellectual ability.

The conclusion was reached after looking at more than three decades of data on exposure to toxins found commonly in our environment, many of which have been linked (in previous studies) to physical and mental disabilities in children.

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