Cracked or Not: Is an Egg a Day Harmful?
Latest Study Suggests Frequent Egg Eaters Die Earlier
WebMD News Archive
July 28, 2004 -- Is the all-clear on eggs all over? A new
Japanese study breaks through the promising news on eggs. Eating eggs every day
increases a woman's risk of dying young, it says.
The report appears this month in the American Journal of
Clinical Nutrition. The 14-year study shows that women who ate one egg a
day were more likely to die during those 14 years compared with women who ate
one to two eggs a week.
It stirs up an old argument -- whether the egg yolk's 200 mg of
cholesterol contributes to health problems like heart disease.
Two years ago, a study published by the American Heart
Association found that up to one egg per day did not have a significant
impact on risk for heart disease or stroke. The AHA now recommends eating less
than 300 mg per day on average. People with high cholesterol should eat no more
than 200 mg per day.
But that's not all: Scientists have discovered something called
phosphatidylcholine, or PC, a compound found naturally in eggs. It seems to
block an egg's cholesterol from entering the bloodstream. And just this month,
a group of Connecticut researchers found that adding up to three eggs per day
raises some types of LDL "bad" cholesterol -- but not the type of LDL
known to clog arteries.
Yet eggs are good food -- a highly digestible, excellent source
of protein, lutein (a powerful antioxidant), vitamins A, E, and B, and
Cracking the Data
The study involved more than 9,000 Japanese men and women whose
egg consumption, cholesterol levels, and deaths were documented from 1980 to
Women who ate an egg daily were more likely to die early than
women who ate one or two eggs per week. Total cholesterol level among the
frequent egg eaters was on average 6 mg/dL higher than less-frequent egg
For men, frequent egg eating seemed to pose no problems to
total cholesterol. Fewer men ate eggs every day, for one thing. And men who
were daily egg eaters had no higher risk of early death than women.
How could this be? Possibly because this group of Japanese men
got their total daily cholesterol from a wider variety of sources -- more so
than the women did, writes lead researcher Yasuyuki Nakamura, MD, a
cardiologist with the Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan.
One limitation of this study: The researchers did not document
total calorie or cholesterol intake, or saturated or polyunsaturated fat
The better odds for infrequent egg eaters may reflect a more
"health-conscious" attitude that eventually results in better health
and longer life. But since equal numbers of smokers were found in both groups
of egg-eating women, that wasn't likely the case, writes Nakamura.