Breaking news! Eggs are comparable to smoking for heart disease risk
15th August 2012
In news that may break the heart of many people across Britain who love nothing more than a good old fashioned fry-up to kick-off their day, it is unfortunately our duty to report that scientists are claiming that the egg yolks are ‘almost as bad as smoking’ in regards to the negative effects they can have on health. The debate about how good eggs are for you has been active for a number of years and no doubt this new study to emerge will add fuel to the fire. The egg is a staple of many Brits’ morning breakfast, with fry-ups or ‘egg and soldiers’ being most common dishes. The bearer of bad news is Dr David Spence from the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. Dr Spence claims that eating egg yolks for a sustained time period can speed up the onset of atherosclerosis. This is where cholesterol and fat begin to build up in the artery walls and then result in the gradual creation hard structures called plaques. The damaged narrow arteries can then restrict blood flow causing organs to stop functioning correctly, or there is a risk of blood clot. When the blood supply to the heart is restricted this could lead to a possible heart attack, or a stroke may be triggered when the brain’s blood supply has been affected. Dr Spence conducted an analysis of 1,231 participants in total from London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital clinics in Ontario. For a fair result, he looked at a mixture of both men and women. The patients had an overall average age of 61.5 and each patient completed a questionnaire that quizzed them about their lifestyle and medicines taken. Dr Spence wanted to know each patient’s pack-years of smoking (number of packs per day of cigarettes times the number of years), and the number of egg yolks roughly eaten per week times the number of years consumed (egg yolk-years). An ultrasound machine was utilised to assess the total plaque area levels of each person. After thorough analysis it was discovered that carotid plaque area rose linearly with age after 40, but increased exponentially after several years of frequent smoking and egg yolk consumption. It was also observed that the people who typically ate at least three egg yolks per week had notably more plaque area than those who restricted themselves to consuming just two a week. Dr Spence warned, “The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue. It has been known for a long time that a high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have very high cholesterol content. In diabetics, an egg a day increases coronary risk by two to five-fold.” He continued to stress that regular egg consumption can actually be two-thirds as dangerous as smoking in terms of plaque build-up. In addition, Dr Spence revealed that a typical jumbo sized egg can contain a whopping 237 milligrams of cholesterol, adding, “It’s more than the cholesterol in a Hardee’s monster thick burger which is two-thirds of a pound of beef, three slices of cheese and four slices of bacon.”