Deep Fried Mars Bar by Xian from Lancaster
Recent nutritional studies by researchers at Tehran and Toronto universities into dietary patterns and breast cancer risk show that healthy eating was associated with eliminating three-quarters of the odds of breast cancer, whereas less healthy eating was associated with up to nearly eight times the odds. Included in the unhealthy eating pattern was the consumption of deep-fried foods, which have previously been linked to breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, oral and throat cancers. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle found that regular intake of deep fried foods, in this instance French fries, chicken, fish, and doughnuts appeared to contribute to the progression of prostate cancer as well.
The problem lies in the heat of deep fry oil, which can generate potentially carcinogenic compounds, when chicken and fish are cooked at high temperature. Deep-fried plants, on the other hand, can form acrylamide.
Acrylamide intake has been associated with risk of endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, kidney cancer, and throat cancer. The level of cancer risk associated with French fries depends on how long and hot they’re fried and to avoid the generation of carcinogenic compounds and acrylamide, cooking temperature and cooking time should be as low and as short as possible.
Despite promises by the food industry to the European Food Safety Authority of self-regulation and control of fry times there appears to have been little change to date.
Blanching potatoes before deep frying reduces the formation of acrylamide but potato chip manufacturers and chippies complain that this reduces flavour and leaches away some vitamin C, though if you are relying on potato chips for your daily dose of vitamin C, you probably won't be thinking too seriously about cancer producing compounds.
As with all dietary advice, moderation is the key word. An occasional deep fry-up is not going to give you cancer, though a daily dip into deep fries may be shortening the odds – not only on cancer but obesity which is a quick route to a number of cancers – see my blog 14.
No cancer risk study has yet been published on the consumption of that alleged Scottish delicacy, the Deep fried Mars Bar. I recently saw an online recipe for this, served with French fries….eat that dish too often, and cancer risk will be the least of your worries!