He pointed to portion control and limiting fried food intake as ways to decrease your chances of heart-related death.
Upon completion of the study, Bao's team found that eating fried chicken led to a 12 percent increase in heart-related deaths. The strength of the association may be because people simply consume more fried chicken or fish, Bao says, or because of differences in how those foods are prepared.
Several cohort studies in USA populations have found that higher consumption of fried foods was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, they write, but a study in a Mediterranean population found no association between fried food consumption and coronary heart disease.
To probe the long-term effects of fried food consumption to the body, the researchers analyzed the food habits of over 100,000 postmenopausal women across the United States from 1993 to 1998.
The study controlled for other mortality factors, including education, income, and dietary content-among other things-, so its findings are statistically significant.
- One or more servings of fried fish or shellfish a day was linked to a seven per cent higher risk of death from any cause and a 13 per cent higher risk of heart-related death compared with no fried food.
Foods such as fried fish/shellfish and fried chicken were linked to heightened risk of heart-related death, particularly to women aged 50-65 years old in the study.
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.
"Although there is an increased risk of eating fried food in terms of mortality, the risk is lower with low frequency", Bao said.
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.
The rise in risk could be down to a number of reasons, according to the study.
The authors note that the study wasn't able to identify what types of oils were used to cook the foods, at what temperature or which cooking methods were used. They were also more likely to smoke, exercise less, and have a worse diet in general.
Fried fish was linked with a 7% higher risk. The study concluded by listing its observations and its importance to the discussions about public health, but it also said that further research is necessary to make more specific conclusions.
The findings, published in The BMJ, showed that after taking into account other potentially influential factors such as lifestyle and overall diet quality, regularly eating fried foods was associated with a higher risk of death from any cause, and, in particular with heart-related death.