BARLOW, AK—A new longitudinal study on the health benefits of eating apples has been completed, with unexpected results. The popular saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” helped put the apple on the map as a health food, but now science has revealed a dark side to the fruit.

The study, undertaken by a small team at the University of Barlow (UOB), Alaska, has just collated 30 years of data from 7 subjects within Barlow and surrounding areas.”We’ve followed these mature-age subjects now for 30 years, and the findings are both conclusive and alarming,” said lead researcher Professor Cassandra Casablanca.

The subjects were first selected in 1986 and ranged in age from 55 years to 76 years to allow researchers to determine the impact of apple consumption on the aging body. “All 7 subjects regularly consumed apples as part of their diet, and we are sorry to say that all subjects are now deceased,” said Casablanca in a press release earlier today.

The longitudinal study was cut short by the death of the last surviving subject, Alice Craig, who died at the age of 91. The other subjects died between the ages of 85 and 93 according to the study, which is currently under review for publication in the International Journal of  the Science of Fruit & Vegetables in Regional & Remote North America (IJSFVRRNA).

The shocking results of the study, with apple consumption implicated in all 7 deaths, cast a substantial shadow over the erstwhile popular fruit.

“The correlation between apple consumption and death is too strong to ignore – it’s a wake-up call for casual apple eaters everywhere,” said Casablanca.

Food scientists from other universities have been quick to respond, with one noting that the subjects “appeared to have died at a ‘ripe’ old age”.

Concerns for the ethical soundness of the study have prompted criticism of UOB’s Research Ethical Standards Committee, resulting in the suspension of a similar study on the health benefits of strawberries due to fears that strawberries too may pose a significant health risk to participants.

Local conspiracist Jethro J. J. “Jumping” Jehoshaphat was quoted by the Barlow Bugle as saying, “I have always maintained that the FDA promotion of apple consumption for health reasons was part of a larger government conspiracy to subjugate the population through diet. There is also the question of Brussels sprouts—clearly poison—that have been sold to us as a health food! This government cloud obviously has a sinister lining.”

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health & Human Services dismissed his claims as “fruity”, although she conceded that the reputation of the apple had been soured.

As a precaution, health warning labels will now be mandated on all apples sold in Alaska, and this is likely to become federal law once the study becomes popular on social media. The message is clear: an apple a day keeps the doctor away – but it may just bring the undertaker.