A new study shows that postmenopausal women who regularly consume fried chicken and other fried foods are at increased risk of heart disease and death from any cause. This news is disturbing, considering that more than one-third of North Americans eat fast food every day, and much of this food is prepared in fryers. In addition, we know from earlier studies that eating a lot of fried foods increases one’s risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The latest word on the danger of consuming fried foods comes from a study including 106,966 women, age 50 to 79, who joined the Women’s Health Initiative from 1993 to 1998 and were followed until February 2017. The women responded to detailed questionnaires asking how often they ate fried foods, including fried chicken, fried fish and shellfish, fish sandwiches, French fries, tortilla chips and tacos.
During the study period, 31,588 of the women died, 9,320 of heart problems, 8,358 from cancer and 13,880 from other causes. The researchers reported that women who ate one or more serving of fried foods daily had a risk of death that was 8 percent higher than those who didn’t eat fried foods. Eating one or more servings of fried chicken daily was associated with a 13 percent higher risk of death from any cause and a 12 percent higher risk of heart-related death compared to women who ate no fried food. Beyond that, women who consumed one or more servings of fried fish or shellfish daily had a 7 percent higher risk of death from any cause and a 13 percent higher risk of heart related death, again compared to women who didn’t eat fried food. The study found no connection between eating fried food and cancer-related death, although earlier research has suggested a link.
French fries and other fried foods didn’t seem to present the same level of risk as did fried chicken and fish, possibly because chicken (and other animal foods) are fried longer.
The researchers, from the University of Iowa College of Public Health, reported that women who ate fried food most often tended to be younger, non-white, with less education and a lower income. Study leader, Win Bao M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of epidemiology, says that obesity is likely related to the increased risk of death among women who regularly consume fried foods.
However you look at it, fried foods aren’t good for your health.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Wei Bao et al, “Association of fried food consumption with all cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality: prospective cohort study,” BMJ January 23, 2019, doi: doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k5420