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Can air fryers cause cancer?

AIR fryers have surged in popularity in recent years – promising fitness fanatics seeming unhealthy fried food without the added guilt.

The kitchen-top gadget is a very small cooker that uses roughly half the energy of a regular cooker, making it a bit of a money-saving hack too.

Air frying food can potentially create cancer-causing compounds

And despite its name, it doesn’t fry food at all.

What it does do is recreate the crispiness of fried food, just without the fat.

The research around the popular fryers is still very limited.

Previous research has found frying food in oil can cause dangerous compounds to develop, such as acrylamide.

This compound forms in certain foods during high-heat cooking methods, such as deep frying.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide may have links to the development of some cancers, including endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, breast, and oesophageal cancer. 

By switching to air frying, people can lower the risk of having acrylamide in their food.

But experts warn, there could be downsides to these magical devices.



Air frying food can potentially create harmful compounds, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, according to the National Cancer Institute.

These compounds have been associated with a cancer, the body explained.

However, medics believe the popular devices could do a lot of good – if used correctly.

Dr Rachel Ward a GP from Woodlands Medical Centre, Didcot, said one of her “main concerns” at the moment was that patients cannot afford to heat their homes and feed themselves well due to the cost of living crisis.

“One thing an air fryer offers in an energy efficient way of cooking food, so this is positive,” she explained.

“It also uses much less fat that deep frying food which is an obvious health benefit.”

Her concern was that people who use air fryers might resort to a “repetitive diet”.

She said: “It seems obvious to cook meat and potatoes but people may be less inclined to make vegetable dishes and get their ‘five-a-day’ in.

“If you are going to use an air fryer as your main method of cooking, make sure you still have balance in your diet and get all the nutrients you need.”

Meanwhile, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical consultant to Patient.infos, said air fryers can help people lose or manage their weight.

“The theory of air fryers is that they provide the taste and crispiness of food with up to 75 per cent less oil and therefore fewer calories.”

How do air fryers work?

The appliance operates a bit like a convection oven.

Hot air is created by a heating element, and this is then circulated around the food by a fan.

The veggies or meat you put in there are held up in the basket, allowing the hot air to cook all sides of the food.

By using an air fryer as opposed to traditional frying, you can get your food crispy and browned without having to use much oil – though you might use some to stop your food from getting stuck to the basket.

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