Surveying more than 1,200 patients, Dr. David Spence, who led the study, found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking in building up carotid plaque — a risk for stroke and heart attack. “The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue,” says Spence, a professor of neurology at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, Ont. “What we have shown is that with aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries, and egg yolks make it build up faster — about two-thirds as much as smoking. In the long haul, egg yolks are not OK for most people.” (via Egg yolks unhealthy says Western University’s David Spence - thestar.com)
- According to Dr. Spence, it’s a no-brainer: the recommended daily intake of cholesterol for people at risk of heart attack and strokes is less than 200 milligrams a day and that one jumbo egg contains about 237 mg of cholesterol.
- But Karen Harvey of Egg Farmers of Canada is crying foul and says based on scientific research, the industry doesn’t believe the comparison between egg yolks and smoking is a valid one.
- “Independent research confirms that dietary cholesterol in eggs has little effect on blood cholesterol levels in adults,” says Harvey. “These studies have also looked at people with existing heart disease and eating an egg a day did not increase their risk for cardiovascular or stroke either.”
- She added that Canadian health care professionals are far more concerned with overall diet — and curbing the consumption of foods high in saturated and trans fats — in order to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke, two areas of concern that Harvey says the recent Western study failed to include in its review.
- Spence says the “back and forth” battle between his studies and the egg producers has been ongoing and he blames the media for giving “the egg people” an opportunity to spread what he calls propaganda and misinformation.
- “Who are you going to believe, top researchers and doctors who have been telling Canadians that egg yolks are harmful to one’s health, or people who want to sell eggs,” he says. “Some of the research they claim to have only tells half the story.”
- He says some studies (of various egg boards) didn’t wait until the subjects got well into their later years (when the effects of cholesterol are easier seen) and were released prematurely.
- He compares North American egg boards to tobacco industry equivalents that for decades denied any health risks from smoking.
- In 2010 his London house was “egged” after he released one of his scathing reports but says he never found out who the perpetrators were.
The study, published online in the journal Atherosclerosis, looked at the data from the 1,231 men and women, with a mean age of 61.5, who were patients attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital.
The research found carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and egg yolk-years. In other words, compared to age, both tobacco smoking and egg yolk consumption accelerated atherosclerosis. The study also found that those eating three or more yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate two or fewer yolks per week.