Previous research has suggested that eating foods prepared with high-heat cooking methods, such as grilled meat, may increase the risk of prostate cancer. But this is the first study to look at how deep-fried foods may affect that risk, the study authors said.
How the study was done
Researchers examined data from about 1 500 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 1 500 men who did not have the disease. The men, who ranged in age from 35 to 74, provided details about their eating habits.
Men who said they ate French fries, fried chicken, fried fish and/or doughnuts at least once a week were 30% to 37% more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate such foods less than once a month.
Men who ate these foods at least once a week also had a slightly greater risk of more aggressive prostate cancer, according to the study, which found an association between deep-fried foods and prostate cancer risk but didn't prove cause-and-effect. The study was published online recently in the journal The Prostate.
The study was supported by the US National Cancer Institute and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle.
"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," study corresponding author Janet Stanford, co-director of Hutchinson's prostate cancer research program, said in a centre news release.
This increased prostate cancer risk may be due to the fact that when oil is heated to temperatures used for deep frying, potentially cancer-causing compounds can form in the fried food, she said.
The more the oil is re-used and the longer the frying time, the greater the amounts of these toxic compounds, Stanford said.
One expert said he wasn't surprised by the findings.
Cancer and high fat
"This study begins to confirm in people what has been seen in animal models over the past decade," said Dr. Warren Bromberg, chief of urology, Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, NY.
He said that high fat diets have been shown in those studies to be tied to "changes at the cellular level [that] are associated with cancer," especially in the prostate.
"Diet has been postulated to be a significant risk factor for inflammatory conditions and cancer, although more studies in people need to be done," Bromberg added.
Previous studies have linked fried foods to cancers of the breast, lung, pancreas, head and neck, and oesophagus, the researchers noted.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about diet and cancer.
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