Believe This: Too Much Fried Chicken Can Kill You

Desiree Burns
January 26, 2019

"Reducing the consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish/shellfish, could have a clinically meaningful effect across the public health spectrum".

Regularly eating fried food is linked with a heightened risk of death from any cause and heart-related death, among postmenopausal women, finds a USA study in The BMJ.

Bao's team looked at the food habits of nearly 107,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 from 40 clinics across the United States between 1993 and 1998. By the time those 18 years had passed, 31,588 women had died.

A regular serving of fried chicken or fish is associated with a higher risk of death from any cause except cancer, according to a new study done in postmenopausal women in the United States.

Upon completion of the study, Bao's team found that eating fried chicken led to a 12 percent increase in heart-related deaths. By comparison, people in the United States tend to eat fried foods from restaurants, where they are often cooked in deep fryers using peanut or canola oils.

After also checking the potentially influential factors like overall diet quality, lifestyle, income, and education level, researchers discovered that eating fried foods regularly was linked to increased risk of death from any cause, particularly heart-related deaths.

The researchers emphasised the study was observational and only considered USA women so it may not be applicable more widely, however they also highlighted the large size and diversity of the sample and said that "we have identified a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality that is readily modifiable by lifestyle". Bao reportedly said this could be because most snack foods are fried more lightly than animal proteins.

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Fried food isn't all that good for you.

There is much in the study that Bao and his team could not test for, so this study cannot be generalized to all fried food everywhere. Previous studies that investigated the health effects of fried food did not see differences in consequences between genders. For example, the type of oil used for frying, as some are worse for you than others.

For longer life, eat less fried chicken or fish.

Between 25 and 36% of North American adults consume fast food - usually fried - every day. This matters, Bao explained, because if people fry food at home, they are less likely to reuse oil, which creates more harmful products in the oil that are absorbed into the food. "Consuming fats from fried food directly impacts the burden of this disease".

This is an observational study which only considers women in the USA, so may not be applicable more widely, the researchers said. But correlation is not causation, and other factors may have played a role.

Surprisingly, the researchers did not find a link between specific fried food and cancer.

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