- According to a new study that looked at women between the ages of 50 and 79, eating fried chicken daily was linked to a 13% higher risk of dying early.
- Eating fried fish daily was linked with a 7% higher risk.
- The results can’t necessarily be applied to everyone, but one of the researchers said the team didn’t have any reason to think the effects would differ by age or gender.
According to new research, regularly eating fried chicken could increase the risk of an early death.
The new study, published in The BMJ, found that eating fried food was linked with a heightened risk of death in postmenopausal women.
Researchers used questionnaire data to assess the diets of 106,966 women aged 50 to 79 who were followed for 18 years up to February 2017. They looked at how often they ate different fried foods, including chicken, fish, shellfish, french fries, tortilla chips, and tacos.
Over that time, 31,588 women died. Heart problems caused 8,358 of those deaths.
“We know fried food consumption is something very common in the United States and also around the world. Unfortunately, we know very little about long-term health effect of fried food consumption,” Wei Bao, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa and the lead author of the study, told CNN.
The study is the first of its kind, according to Bao, but previous research has shown a link between eating fried food and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Overall, after accounting for lifestyle, diet quality, education level, and income, the results showed that regularly eating fried food was linked to an increased risk of death. Specifically, those who ate one or more servings of fried food a day had an 8% higher risk than those who didn’t touch it.
Eating fried chicken daily was associated with a 13% higher risk of death and a 12% higher risk of death from a heart-related problem, compared to no fried food. Eating fried fish daily was linked with a 7% higher risk of death.
The researchers found no evidence that fried food increased the risk of cancer.
Women who ate more fried foods were more likely to be young, have a lower income, and have less education. They were also more likely to smoke, exercise less, and have a less healthy diet in general.
As an observational study, the results cannot necessarily be applied to everyone, but Bao told Time that the team didn’t have any reason to think the effects would differ by age or gender.
“I would suspect the association may be similar among younger women or even among men,” he said.
Other limitations of the study are that other factors could play a role in the premature deaths. For example, the type of oil used for frying, as some are worse for you than others. A study in Spain found no links between fried food and an early death because the population used olive oil, the researchers said.
The size and diversity of the study work in its favour, though.
“We have identified a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality that is readily modifiable by lifestyle,” the researchers wrote.
“Reducing the consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish/shellfish, may have clinically meaningful impact across the public health spectrum,” they wrote.