First published: June 25, 2022
Does frequently using an air fryer cause cancer? Air fryers are a relatively new gadget designed to substitute traditional deep frying. Air fryers have revolutionized how we cook food; pop some sliced potatoes in for 10 to 20 minutes, and you’ve got some excellent french fries.1 Air fryers have expedited the time it takes to achieve deliciously crispy food while reducing clean-up time. So, what’s not to love?
According to many sources, air fryers are a healthier alternative to conventional frying. But what are the benefits and drawbacks of cooking with an air fryer?
Americans consume more potatoes than other vegetables, with frozen products such as french fries taking the lead.2 Due to growing health consciousness and continuing demand for fried meals, air fryers have seen a recent spike in popularity. Air fryer manufacturers promote their products as a way to make and enjoy fried foods without the adverse health risks associated with oil-fried foods. Air fried food contains less trans fat than deep-fried food, making them potentially healthier.
However, some people are concerned about the potential health dangers of using this new cooking technique, mainly because of concerns about toxicity and cancer, while others are suspicious of the alleged benefits of air fried food. This article from Immunity Therapy Center assesses how much air fryers can impact your risk of cancer.
How Do Air Fryers Work?
Air fryers are square or egg-shaped machines that sit on your counter and are roughly the size of a coffee maker. It’s similar to an oven in that they both bake and roast food. Its heating elements make all the difference. The heating elements in an air fryer are positioned on the top and are accompanied by a huge and powerful fan. Due to the existence of a focused heat source and the size and positioning of the fan, air fryers heat up fast and cook food evenly and swiftly.
A fan circulates hot air (up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) over the food. It works almost as similar to a convection oven. The circulating air cooks the outside of the food first, resulting in a crispy brown coating on the surface and a soft interior, similar to deep-fried dishes.3 A container beneath the basket collects any grease that drips as the food cooks. Air fryers can achieve this by removing high-fat and high-calorie oils from the cooking process.
A person can achieve identical results to a deep fryer with a fraction of the fat and calories by using just 1 tablespoon of cooking oil instead of several cups.
According to researchers, air fryers use heated air containing fine oil droplets to remove moisture from foods. As a result, the product has qualities comparable to deep-fried dishes but with substantially reduced fat levels.
Like many other cooking processes, air-frying causes a chemical reaction called the Maillard effect, which improves the flavor and color of fried food. It is also worth considering that since air fryers use less oil, you can use higher quality, more expensive oils.4
Benefits of Air Fryers
When used correctly, air fryers provide a slew of health benefits:
Can promote weight loss
Fried food consumption is associated with an increased risk of obesity. This is due to the high fat and calorie content of deep-fried dishes. You can aid weight loss by switching from deep-fried to air-fried dishes and eliminating the regular intake of unhealthy oils.5
Air fryers are safer than deep fryers
Deep fat frying requires the use of a large container filled with hot oil. This can pose a safety risk. While air fryers do get hot, there is no risk of spilling, splashing, or touching hot oil by accident.
Air fryers reduce the risk of toxic acrylamide formation
Air fryers reduce the risk of hazardous acrylamide content production. Frying food in oil can result in harmful chemicals like acrylamide. This chemical develops in certain foods during a high heat cooking method, such as deep fat frying. Acrylamides are created when amino acids react with sugars at a high temperature. Acrylamide is now classified as a group 2A carcinogen in humans.
Acrylamide is linked to the development of cancers such as endometrial, pancreatic, breast, ovarian, and esophageal cancer. Additional research, although inconclusive, has shown a relationship between dietary acrylamide and endometrial, kidney, or ovarian cancers.6
Because air fryers take longer to cook than deep fryers, there was some concern that the acrylamide levels of meals fried in air fryers might be higher. However, a 2020 research on air frying indicated that, compared to deep frying, air frying could minimize the acrylamide levels generated. People can reduce the risk of acrylamide in their food by switching to air frying.7
Reduces Overall Health Risk
Cooking with oil and eating traditionally fried dishes regularly has been linked to several health problems. You can switch to air frying to lessen the risk of these consequences.
Air fryers offer an Easy Cooking Method
An air fryer can cook everything from French fries to fried chicken fingers. You can also use air fryers to give your roasted meals a nice crisp. Simply brush some oil on the dishes you want to fry and heat the air fryer to the desired temperature depending on your cooking. Temperatures typically range from 300 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Air Fryers are Versatile
An air fryer is a great kitchen appliance if you want something that can do more than just fry meals. Complementary accessories for grilling and roasting foods are available. You can even create desserts in an air fryer. Consequently, an air fryer is a more adaptable kitchen appliance.
Adverse Effects of Air Frying
While air fryers have their advantages, they also come with several drawbacks:
No Guarantee of a Healthy Meal
While air fryers can provide more nutritious food options than deep fryers, eliminating or limiting fried food from one’s diet can significantly benefit one’s health.
Simply substituting air-fried items for deep-fried ones does not guarantee a healthy diet. For optimal health, people should eat a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and lean protein.7
Harmful Compounds in Air Frying
While air fryers are known for reducing the synthesis of acrylamide compared to traditional frying methods, it’s important to note that they can still produce this potentially harmful chemical. Air frying, particularly at high temperatures, can also lead to the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), especially when cooking meat. These compounds have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, raising concerns about the use of air fryers for high-heat cooking.8
Another point of concern is the cooking of fish in air fryers. High-temperature cooking of fish in an air fryer has been associated with the development of cholesterol oxidation products (COPs). These compounds, found in air-fried fish, are linked to heart disease and other chronic conditions. However, research has indicated that seasoning fish with a mix of chives and parsley before air frying can significantly reduce the formation of COPs. This finding suggests that certain cooking practices, such as using specific seasonings, can mitigate some of the risks associated with air frying.9
Curbs Cholesterol in Fish
Air-fried fish also appears to have fewer omega-3 fatty acids. These “healthy fats” may help protect the heart by lowering blood pressure and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.11
Potential For Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is fairly prevalent in the United States; therefore, it’s necessary to consider the risk associated with any cooking method. Food poisoning affects around 48 million individuals in the United States annually, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 fatalities.12
A 2019 study examined the risk of food poisoning when chicken strips were cooked in an air fryer, an air fryer, a deep fryer, a toaster oven, and a regular oven (using a sample of salmonella). While deep frying was the most effective method for killing bacteria, the air fryer and toaster oven performed poorly.13
Takes More Time
Air-frying takes much longer cooking time than traditional deep-frying. When comparing the properties of deep-fried and air-fried french fries, one study found that air-frying took 21 minutes, whereas deep-frying took only 9 minutes.14
In addition to requiring more extended cooking periods, air-fried meals have a somewhat different taste and a less crispy consistency than deep-fried meals. Your cooking technique also plays a part. If you cram too much food into the little basket, it will cook unevenly, leaving some crunchy and soggy parts.
Air Fryer Cancer Warnings
Amid the popularity of air fryers, there have been concerns regarding air fryer cancer warnings. The primary concern revolves around the potential formation of carcinogenic compounds during the cooking process. While air fryers are touted as a healthier alternative to deep frying, understanding the potential risks associated with their use is crucial.15
The debate centers on whether the high temperatures used in air frying could lead to the formation of harmful compounds at levels significant enough to raise cancer risks. Research in this area is ongoing, and consumers need to stay informed about the latest findings.9
When comparing the benefits of using an air fryer vs. a deep fryer for cooking, it emerges that the air fryer has certain advantages when preparing fried foods in a cancer-prevention diet. There is, however, a major caveat. Many of the items cooked in an air fryer (such as French fries and other processed foods) are not the best options for reducing the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
The healthiness of air frying is dependent on the item being fried. For instance, French fries cooked in an air fryer will be less healthful than broccoli. Most types of cooking follow the same pattern, and air frying is no exception. Although there is presently little research on the consequences of air-fried meals, health experts, including those at Immunity Therapy Center, recommend that consumers restrict their intake of fried foods in general.
Food fried in an air fryer is not necessarily healthier than food prepared in a conventional oven. For optimal health, make sure to incorporate diverse cooking methods into your usual eating practices. Oven roasting, baking, grilling, and pan-searing are excellent alternatives to frying. By maintaining a diverse array of foods and cooking techniques, individuals can pursue a healthier diet.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we understand the importance of holistic health in the fight against cancer. Our alternative therapy types are designed to treat all types and stages of cancer, complementing traditional treatment methods with a focus on the overall well-being of our patients. If you’re looking for more information on how lifestyle and dietary choices can impact cancer treatment and prevention, reach out to us today. Our team is dedicated to providing personalized care and support, guiding you on your journey to wellness.
Written By: Dr. Pablo Orozco
Dr. Pablo Orozco is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Orozco has been a treating physician at the Immunity Therapy Center for more than 3 years providing daily on site patient care. He works with patients on a daily basis and guides them through the treatment process. Dr. Orozco’s passion for Alternative Cancer Treatments along with his commitment to patient care is key to insure that our patients have the best experience and results possible.
- Eating Well. Is air frying healthy? Here’s what a dietitian says. https://www.eatingwell.com/article/7898639/is-air-frying-healthy-heres-what-a-dietitian-says/
- Healthday. Potatoes, Tomatoes Make Up Bulk of Americans’ Veggie Intake. https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/potatoes-tomatoes-make-up-bulk-of-americans-veggie-intake-703589.html
- NCBI. A comparative study of the characteristics of French fries produced by deep fat frying and air frying. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25619624
- NCBI. Food Processing and Maillard Reaction products. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745522/
- NCBI. Fried food consumption and the risk of obesity. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33825582/
- NCBI. Dietary Acrylamide and Human Cancer. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164905/
- NCBI. Effect of pretreatments and air-frying, a novel technology, on acrylamide generation in fried potatoes. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25872656/
- Mishri. Air fryer: Working, uses, and disadvantages. https://mishry.com/best-use-of-air-fryer
- Poison. Do Air Fryers Cause Cancer? https://www.poison.org/articles/do-air-fryers-cause-cancer
- Medical News Today. Are Air Fryers Healthy? Benefits and Risks. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324849
- Journal of Food Science. Impact of Air Frying on Cholesterol and Fatty Acids Oxidation in Sardines: Protective Effects of Aromatic Herbs. https://doi.org/10.1111/1750-3841.13967
- Foodsafety.gov. Food Poisoning. https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-poisoning
- Journal of Food Protection. Effectiveness of Preparation Practices on the Inactivation of Salmonella enterica Serovar Enteritidis in Frozen Breaded Chicken Strips. https://doi.org/10.4315/JFP-19-601
- NCBI. A comparative study of the characteristics of French fries produced by deep fat frying and air frying. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25619624/
- Very Well Health. Are Air Fryers Bad for You? Benefits and Risks of Cancer. https://www.verywellhealth.com/can-air-fryers-cause-cancer-5082537
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.