The frequent and regular consumption of fried foods such as doughnuts, French fries and fried chicken, a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study has found, has been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
And that effect, the study showed, appears to be stronger with regard to more aggressive forms of the disease.
While previous studies have suggested that eating foods made with high-heat cooking methods, such as grilled meats, may increase the risk of prostate cancer, this is the first study to examine the addition of deep-frying to the equation.
“The link between prostate cancer and select deep-fried foods appeared to be limited to the highest level of consumption—defined in our study as more than once a week—which suggests that regular consumption of deep-fried foods confers particular risk for developing prostate cancer,” said Dr. Janet Stanford, a corresponding author of the study.
Dr. Janet Stanford
In particular, men who ate one or more of these foods at least weekly had an increased risk of prostate cancer that ranged from 30 to 37 percent. Weekly consumption of these foods was associated also with a slightly greater risk of more aggressive prostate cancer. The researchers controlled for factors such as age, race, family history of prostate cancer, body-mass index and PSA screening history when calculating the association between eating deep-fried foods and prostate cancer risk.
Possible mechanisms behind the increased cancer risk, Stanford hypothesizes, include the fact that when oil is heated to temperatures suitable for deep frying, potentially carcinogenic compounds can form in the fried food.
They include acrylamide (found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as French fries), heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures), aldehyde (an organic compound found in perfume) and acrolein (a chemical found in herbicides). These toxic compounds are increased with re-use of oil and increased length of frying time.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to look at the association between intake of deep-fried food and risk of prostate cancer,” Stanford said. However, deep-fried foods have previously been linked to cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, and esophagus.