Background: The reduction of saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake has been the basis of long-standing dietary recommendations. However, recent epidemiologic studies have reported conflicting evidence in the relation between SFA consumption and risk of atherosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD) mortality.
Objective: We investigated the association of SFA intake with serum lipid profiles and ASVD mortality in a population-based 10-y cohort study.
Design: At baseline (1998) 1469 women living in Perth, Western Australia, with a mean ± SD age of 75.2 ± 2.7 y had SFA intake measured by using a validated food-frequency questionnaire. Outcome data were serum lipids at baseline and ASVD deaths over 10 y (13,649 person-years of follow-up), retrieved from the Western Australian Data Linkage System. Other risk factors for ASVD were assessed and adjusted for in multivariable analyses.
Results: ASVD deaths occurred in 9.1% (134) of participants. The highest quartile of SFA intake (>31.28 g/d) had an ∼16% cumulative mortality risk compared with ∼5% in the lowest quartile (<17.39 g/d) (HR: 3.07; 95% CI: 1.54, 6.11; P = 0.001). Baseline SFA intake was associated with baseline serum total and LDL cholesterol in multivariable-adjusted models (β: 0.199, SE: 0.056, P < 0.001 and β: 0.190, SE: 0.051, P < 0.001, respectively). However, baseline serum total and LDL cholesterol were not associated with ASVD mortality.
Conclusions: High SFA intake was associated with the risk of ASVD mortality in this population of elderly women. Although there was a strong positive association between SFA intake and LDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol was not associated with ASVD mortality in this cohort. Nevertheless, these data support dietary advice to reduce SFA intake.