Breast Cancer, cooking oil and fried food.
Many people know what we eat has a bigger impact on our health than simply the calories consumed, but often we may forget that the preparation of the food can be just as important. Prepared the wrong way even the most nutritious foods can lose their health benefits, while new research suggests that what is used to prepare the food may be even more dangerous, especially for people fighting breast cancer.
Deep-frying is a globally popular form of food preparation, but a study in mice suggests that compounds in thermally abused cooking oils (cooking oil that has been repeatedly reheated to high temperatures) may trigger genetic, biochemical changes that hasten the progression of late-stage breast cancer, promoting the growth of tumour cells’ and their proliferation.
Each time dietary oils are heated to deep-frying temperatures, they undergo chemical alterations that result in a new matrix of lipid structures. These lipid products include triglyceride dimers, polymers, oxidized triglycerides, and cyclic monomers, which raises nutritional concerns about associations between these lipid products and heightened health risks.
Soybean oil was used in the study because of its common use by the food service industry in deep frying. The mice that consumed the thermally abused oil had more than four times as much metastatic growth as the mice that consumed the fresh soybean oil. And when the researchers examined the animals’ lungs, they found more metastases among those that consumed the thermally abused oil. Gene expression in these animals’ livers was altered as well.
Unlike America, where there is no regulation, countries in Europe regulate the amount of polar materials in frying oil (chemically altered triglycerides and fatty acids used as chemical markers of oils’ decomposition), with typically restaurants permitted to use oil containing up to 24-27% polar material. Yet the study only used thermally abused oil containing about 15% polar material, while fresh oil contains 2-4%. As the food sucks up the oil during cooking, the higher the risk the more of this food you eat. And as breast cancer survivors’ biggest fear is recurrence, the concern for the researchers is such food might cause reactivation. So, lifestyle, diet and food preparation may all have a role to play to reduce breast cancer risk, in combating it and in its recurrence.
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