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Study Links Instant Noodles to Heart Disease, Diabetes in Women

Aug 15, 2014

Frequent consumption of instant noodles might increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, especially in women, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

The study was led by Hyun Joon Shin, MD, a clinical cardiology fellow at Baylor University Medical Center and a nutrition epidemiology doctoral student at Harvard School of Public Health. “While instant noodle intake is greater in Asian communities, the association between instant noodle consumption and metabolic syndrome has not been widely studied,” said Dr. Shin in a press release issued by Baylor Scott & White Health. “I decided to investigate in order to uncover more distinct connections.”

Shin and his team focused mostly on South Korea, which has the highest number of instant noodle consumers per-capita in the world. There has been a significant rise in health problems, particularly heart disease, in South Korea; the number of overweight adults has also been increasing in recent years.

The findings suggest that eating instant noodles two or more times a week significantly increases the risk of cardiometabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and other conditions. These effects were found to be more prevalent in women. Shin speculates that biological differences, such as sex hormones and metabolism, may have played a role in these results. The gender difference may also be attributed to differences in eating habits and the accuracy of food reporting.

Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is used in the Styrofoam containers used to package the instant noodles, may be another influential factor. Prior research suggests that BPA disrupts the way hormones work in the body, particularly estrogen.

Dr. Shin highlighted the importance of understanding the foods that we eat. “This research is significant since many people are consuming instant noodles without knowing possible health risks,” he said in the release. “My hope is that this study can lay a foundation for future research about the health effects of instant noodle consumption.”

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