Older women may want to think twice about reaching for a second piece of fried chicken.
Scientists from the University of Iowa, USA, assessed the diets of more that 100,000 women aged 50 to 79 and found that foods such as fried chicken and fried fish were associated with an increased risk of heart-related death and death from any other cause.
In the study published today in the British Medical Journal, fried chicken was found to be the deadliest fast food for older women. Eating fried chicken every day increased the risk of death by 13 per cent and the risk of heart-related death by 12 per cent.
Researchers used questionnaires over a 24-year period to assess the women's total and specific consumption of different fried foods. This included fried chicken, fried fish, fried shellfish (shrimp and oysters), french fries, tortilla chips and tacos.
Around one-third of North American adults eat fast food every day and although previous studies have found fried food to be associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease, there was previously limited evidence about the risk of death linked with eating fried foods.
The researchers emphasised the study was observational and only considered US women so it may not be applicable more widely, however they also highlighted the large size and diversity of the sample and said that "we have identified a risk factor for cardiovascular mortality that is readily modifiable by lifestyle."
"Reducing the consumption of fried foods, especially fried chicken and fried fish/shellfish, may have clinically meaningful impact across the public health spectrum," they concluded in a statement.