Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary Copper and High Saturated and trans Fat Intakes Associated With Cognitive Decline

Morris, M.C., Evans, D.A., Tangney, C.C., Bienias, J.L., Schneider, J.A., Wilson, R.S., Scherr, P.A.  (2006) Arch Neurol. 63 1085-1088 

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Background Evidence from prospective epidemiologic studies and animal models suggests that intakes of dietary fats and copper may be associated with neurodegenerative diseases.

Objective To examine whether high dietary copper intake is associated with increased cognitive decline among persons who also consume a diet high in saturated and trans fats.

Design Community-based prospective study.

Setting Chicago, Ill.

Patients Chicago residents 65 years and older.

Main Outcome Measures Cognitive function was assessed using 4 cognitive tests administered during in-home interviews at 3-year intervals for 6 years. Dietary assessment was performed with a food frequency questionnaire. Dietary intakes of copper and fats were related to change in global cognitive score (the mean of the 4 tests) among 3718 participants.

Results Among persons whose diets were high in saturated and trans fats, higher copper intake was associated with a faster rate of cognitive decline. In multiple-adjusted mixed models, the difference in rates for persons in the highest (median, 2.75 mg/d) vs lowest (median, 0.88 mg/d) quintiles of total copper intake was -6.14 standardized units per year (P<.001) or the equivalent of 19 more years of age. There was also a marginally statistically significant association (P = .07) with the highest quintile of food intake of copper (median, 1.51 mg/d) and a strong dose-response association with higher copper dose in vitamin supplements. Copper intake was not associated with cognitive change among persons whose diets were not high in these fats.

Conclusion These data suggest that high dietary intake of copper in conjunction with a diet high in saturated and trans fats may be associated with accelerated cognitive decline.