Eating a lot of fried foods could be a silent killer for most people.
Fried chicken, french fries and chicken-fried steak might be delicious, but treating yourself to such fare regularly could be deadly, a new study warns.
Women who eat more than one serving a week of fried chicken or fried fish have an increased risk of heart disease and death, researchers report.
“Overall, we found that total fried food consumption is related to higher risk of all-cause death, and also death from cardiovascular disease,” said senior researcher Dr. Wei Bao. He’s an assistant professor of epidemiology with the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health.
The results are not surprising “given the association of fried food to weight gain and obesity, as well as an elevation of cholesterol and triglycerides,” said Dr. Guy Mintz, who was not part of the study. He directs cardiovascular health and lipidology at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
“Poor decisions lead to poor outcomes. We have the opportunity to help ourselves live healthier and longer with lifestyle changes,” Mintz said. “It is time we own what we eat and realize our dietary choices have consequences.”
For the study, Bao and his colleagues relied on data from the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-running federally funded study focused on heart disease, cancer and other health problems in postmenopausal women.
Nearly 107,000 women between ages 50 and 79 were quizzed on their diets and other health problems. These women enrolled in the study between 1993 and 1998, and researchers followed them up to February 2017.
During those two decades, 31,588 women died, including 9,320 heart-related deaths, 8,358 cancer deaths and 13,880 deaths from other causes. The researchers found that women who ate a lot of fried foods also had other problems that could affect their heart health, Mintz said.
One-third of participants who ate one or more fried meals per week were obese, as were 44 percent of the patients who consumed more than one fried food meal per day, Mintz noted.
“More than half of these patients achieved less than the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week,” Mintz continued. About 40 percent of the patients were former smokers.
But even after researchers controlled for these risk factors, fried foods were independently associated with an increased risk of death:
- Women who ate one or more servings a day had an 8 percent higher risk of death compared with those who didn’t eat fried food.
- One or more servings of fried chicken a day was linked to a 13 percent higher risk of death from any cause and a 12 percent higher risk of heart-related death.
- One or more servings of fried fish or shellfish a day was linked to a 7 percent higher risk of death from any cause and a 13 percent higher risk of heart-related death.
The researchers found no evidence linking fried food to an increased risk of cancer death, and the study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between fried foods and early death.
The findings were published Jan. 23 in the BMJ.