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Rut roh. The consumption of fried potatoes could double a person's risk of early death

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Here's some news that has nothing to do with politics, but is likely to erupt bipartisan outrage: people who eat fried potatoes two or more times per week double their risk of an early death, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. And, yes, just to be clear, that includes French fries.

Fortunately, a person doesn't have to completely eliminate potatoes to increase their life span. Eating potatoes that haven't been fried were't linked to early deaths, the researchers noted. 

"Fried potatoes consumption is increasing worldwide," cautioned Dr. Nicola Veronese, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Research Council in Padova, Italy.

The study's results could affect millions of Americans. In 2014, according to the National Potato Council, Americans consumed 112.1 pounds of potatoes per person. Of that, 33.5 pounds were fresh potatoes while the remaining 78.5 pounds were processed. The US Department of Agriculture noted that the majority of processed potatoes Americans consume are French fries.

The study tracked 4,440 people aged 45 to 79 over the course of eight years. The participants were subsequently divided into subgroups based on their potato consumption. Over the eight years, 236 of the participants died. After Vernonese and his team analyzed the data, they found that those who ate fried potatoes two to three times per week doubled their chance of early death compared to those who didn't eat fried potatoes.

Though French fries are the obvious culprit, other processed potato foods include potato chips and hash browns.

But because the study was observational--meaning researchers simply tracked the consumption patterns of people over time--the results aren't directly correlated. More research would be needed to draw such an absolute link. 

"Even if it is an observational study, we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes," Veronese added.

Other important factors to consider, he added, include obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and sodium intake.

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