JUN 28, 2017 10:36 AM PDT

Killer French Fries? Perhaps Not


A recent study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition struck fear in the hearts of potato lovers everywhere. After analyzing potato consumption habits of over 4,000 Americans, the researchers found that those who ate more potatoes were more likely to die. Specifically, those who ate "fried potatoes" (read: french fries, potato chips) more than twice a week had more than doubled the risk of premature death.

But do people really need to panic and go cold-turkey on french fries? Perhaps not. It's important to remember that the study is an association. The researchers found a link between fried potatoes and increased mortality, but they did not establish a cause-effect between the two events. This is important because other factors could have contributed to the higher mortality, other than fried potatoes. Furthermore, even if we take the study's results at face value, it suggests that moderation may be sufficient since the higher mortality is linked to high consumption of fried potatoes.

So, do you need to quit french fries altogether? It's probably not a bad idea to cut back on unhealthy fried foods in general, but some fries here and there would not be a death sentence. And if you feel really bad, know that the study didn't find any increased mortality links to unfried potatoes!
About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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