People who eat a lot of acrylamide, found in unhealthy food like crisps and chips, have been shown to be more likely to break a bone.
A team of researchers, including Prof Cyrus Cooper from the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre, studied the diet and fractures of thousands of people over eight years.
Their results suggest that cutting down on highly processed ‘junk’ food could help people keep their bones stronger in later life and reduce their risk of fractures.
What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a component of unhealthy carbohydrate-rich foods that are deep fried, baked or roasted, such as crisps and chips. There is already evidence linking it with a higher risk of cancer, as well as poor outcomes in pregnancy and soon after birth.
This study used data on 4,436 participants in the USA from the Osteoarthritis Initiative database, collected between February 2004 and May 2006. They ranged from 45 to 79 years of age, and all either had, or were at high risk of developing, knee osteoarthritis.
Each participant answered questions on what they ate in a food frequency questionnaire. The researchers used this to estimate how much acylamide they consumed, and then recorded how many bone fractures they had in the following eight years.
Linking the data
A total of 789 osteoporotic fractures were recorded during the eight years. Those who ate a lot of acrylamide had significantly more fractures than those who ate very little acrylamide.
The results are published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research.
Prof Cyrus Cooper said: “The important findings from this study provide new evidence suggesting acrylamide could be bad for bone health. Cutting down on unhealthy food containing acrylamide may therefore be a good way to help prevent fractures in older age.”