Too Much Fried Food May Shorten Your Life

Too Much Fried Food May Shorten Your Life

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 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.

Even though the study focused on women, Bao said it’s very likely that men would be similarly affected by a diet heavy in fried foods.

Obesity probably plays a part in the increased risk of death, he said. Women who ate fried food regularly had a much larger daily calorie intake than those who didn’t eat fried food.

But other factors could play a role as well, Bao said.

People in Spain often eat fried foods, but a previous study found that fried foods were not associated with an increased risk of death in that country, he noted.

Spanish fried food lovers regularly use olive oil for their frying, and more often they cook their fried foods in their own kitchens, Bao explained. 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.

“The frying process at home could be different from the frying process away from home,” Bao said. “A notable thing is when we fry at home, we don’t reuse the oil many times.”

In the meantime, people shouldn’t downplay the affect high fat intake has on heart health, said Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. He was not part of the study.

“Heart attacks occur from cholesterol plaques building up in the coronary arteries,” Bhusri said. “Consuming fats from fried food directly impacts the burden of this disease. A cholesterol plaque rupture in the artery will cause a heart attack.

“This study emphasizes that there is no ‘maybe’ — fried food and fat have a direct relation to heart disease,” he said.

Mammograms Helped Save 600,000 Lives Since ’89

Mammograms Helped Save 600,000 Lives Since ’89

MONDAY, Feb. 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Widespread mammography screening and big advances in breast cancer treatment have saved hundreds of thousands of American women’s lives since 1989, a new study estimates.

Researchers tracked 1990-2015 U.S. data on breast cancer deaths, along with general data, on women aged 40 to 84. They found the number of breast cancer deaths prevented during that time ranged anywhere from 305,000 to more than 483,000, depending on different approaches to interpreting the data.

They then extrapolated those results out to 2018, and calculated the number of breast cancer deaths prevented since 1989 at anywhere from 384,000 to 614,500.

In 2018 alone, between 27,000 to almost 46,000 breast cancer deaths were prevented, the investigators said.

The findings should help reassure women who wonder about the value of mammograms, said study author R. Edward Hendrick, of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine in Denver.

Recent studies “have focused media attention on some of the risks of mammography screening, such as call-backs for additional imaging and breast biopsies,” he said. But those reports have also often neglected “the most important aspect of screening — that finding and treating breast cancer early saves women’s lives,” Hendrick said.

Mammography screening first became widely available in the mid-1980s. The new study estimates that regular screening plus improved treatments cut the expected rate of breast cancer death in 2018 by between 45 to 58 percent, according to the study published Feb. 11 in the journal Cancer.

“Our study provides evidence of just how effective the combination of early detection and modern breast cancer treatment have been in averting breast cancer deaths,” Hendrick said in a journal news release.

One breast cancer physician applauded the new research.

“We have new immune therapies and improved surgical techniques that are important advances against breast cancer,” said Dr. Alice Police, who directs breast surgery at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.

“However, the biggest factor in literally centuries to lower the mortality rate from this devastating and extremely common disease is the humble screening mammogram,” she said. “Nothing else in detection or treatment has even come close.”

But Hendrick noted that only about half of U.S. women older than 40 get regular mammograms.

“The best possible long-term effect of our findings would be to help women recognize that early detection and modern, personalized breast cancer treatment saves lives, and to encourage more women to get screened annually starting at age 40,” Hendrick said.

Dr. Kristin Byrne is chief of breast imaging at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She agreed that, in keeping with guidelines from the American Cancer Society, women aged 40 and over should consider getting regular mammograms.

Byrne said the new study “is further evidence that early detection and improved treatment saves lives.”

“Over 335,000 women were diagnosed with new breast cancer in the United States in 2018,” she noted, and “eight out of ten of these women have no family history of breast cancer. “

According to current American Cancer Society guidelines, “women ages40to44should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms [X-rays of the breast] if they wish to do so. Women age45to54should get mammograms every year. Women55and older should switch to mammograms every2 years, or can continue yearly screening.”