Air fryers have long been praised for being a healthier option but can air fryers cause cancer?
Evidence shows it is possible that they can. While they are a healthier alternative to conventional deep fryers, they still produce fried food, which always comes at a risk.
How can they be harmful?
The process of frying food in oil can cause acrylamide to develop, a dangerous compound. It forms in certain foods when cooked using high-heat methods like deep-frying. Acrylamide may have a connection to the development of some types of cancer. Air frying lowers the risk that acrylamide will form in food by up to 90% some studies have shown but there is still the possibility it will develop.
As well as acrylamide, experts warn that all methods of cooking meat at high heat have the potential to create heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic. These compounds are also associated with cancer risk.
The types of food impact the risk of cancer
One of the biggest problems with air fryers is the type of food that goes in them. Given that they are used to fry food, many choices are processed or meats that contain a high-fat content. Coupled with the oil that is used in air fryers (even though they use less than deep fryers) eating too much of these types of food can lead to obesity.
It is thought that the rising obesity rates are behind the increase in some types of cancer developing in young people. However, if only a small amount of oil is used when air frying it still makes it a healthier option than deep-frying. One study found that French fries had 75% less fat if they were cooked in an air fryer versus the traditional deep-frying method.
Indeed, manufacturers created air fryers as a healthier alternative to deep fryers and not to replace other cooking methods like grilling. As an excellent option for frying food occasionally, moderation is the key factor.
Benefits of cooking with air fryers
Despite some of the potential risks, air fryers do have a number of advantages over deep fryers. As mentioned earlier, air fryers lower the risk that acrylamide will form. They can also mean that food is cooked with much less oil, making the finished product lower in fat.
Another benefit is that they are safer to use. Deep fryers or deep-frying food on the stove involves scalding oil which has the potential to splash or spill while cooking. Air fryers still get hot but there is no risk of splashing oil and as long as the instructions are followed they are safer to cook with.
What’s the verdict?
So, can air fryers cause cancer? Yes, they can, although this isn’t guaranteed. However, they have the potential to do so both directly and indirectly. They can lead to cancer directly by producing dangerous compounds while cooking at high heat with oil. They can increase the risk of cancer indirectly too by contributing to obesity.