Fried foods are tasty but notoriously unhealthy. Most health-related criticisms of these particular food products revolve around the use of unhealthy fats and excessive calories, but a number of studies have found that frying oil — particularly oil that has been heated and cooled repeatedly — may be linked to the development of cancer. A new study out of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst builds on that, finding that it may fuel pre-existing IBD and colon cancer.
According to the study, which was published today in the journal Cancer Prevention Research, scientists used mice to study the potential health consequences of eating foods cooked in frying oil. The researchers focused specifically on colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Whereas some past research has suggested that consuming frying oil, particularly old repeatedly used oil, may fuel cancer development, this study found evidence that eating these fried foods may make colon inflammation seen in IBD worse, fuel colon cancer tumor growth, and make gut leakage worse.
The researchers stress that the study didn’t find that frying oil causes cancer, but rather than it may make it worse in people who already have the condition. Lead author Jianan Zhang, Ph.D student, said, ‘People with colonic inflammation or colon cancer should be aware of this research.’
As part of their research, the team studied canola oil used to cook falafel at 325F in a commercial fryer. One group of mice was fed frying oil mixed with their food and another group was fed fresh oil mixed with food. The group that consumed frying oil experienced a doubling in the sizes of their tumors.