June 15, 2017 -- A new study links eating fried potatoes with an increased risk of early death.
Researchers looked at 4,440 people ages 45-79 and found that over eight years, those who ate fried potatoes such as French fries, hash browns and potato chips two or more times a week had double the risk of early death than those who did not eat fried potatoes, CNN reported.
The study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition does not prove a direct link between eating fried potatoes and early death but "we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes," said lead author Nicola Veronese, a scientist at the National Research Council in Padova, Italy.
Veronese said he hopes the study will alert people that eating fried potatoes "could be an important risk factor for mortality. Thus, their consumption should be strongly limited."
But Veronese also noted that "other important factors" such as obesity, inactivity and high salt intake might also be factors in the increased risk of early death among people who often eat fried potatoes.
The study provides "no evidence" that potato consumption in and of itself may increase the risk of early death, Susanna Larsson, an associate professor at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, told CNN.
She was not involved in this study but conducted her own study of potato consumption that found no link between eating potatoes and increased risk of heart disease.
The threat from eating fried potatoes and other starchy foods is a potential cancer causing chemical called acrylamide, according to Stephanie Schiff, a registered dietitian at Northwell Health's Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York. She was not involved in the study.
Acrylamide is "a chemical produced when starchy foods such as potatoes are fried, roasted or baked at a high temperature," Schiff explained in an email to CNN.
"You can reduce your intake of acrylamide by boiling or steaming starchy foods, rather than frying them," Schiff said. "If you do fry foods, do it quickly."