Are Eggs The New Cigarettes?

I hope not!  This afternoon I did an interview on HLN’s Evening Express (fast becoming one of my favorite news programs) on a new study published in Atherosclerosis.  From

A new study suggests eating egg yolks can accelerate heart disease almost as much as smoking.

The study published online in the journal Atherosclerosis found eating egg yolks regularly increases plaque buildup about two-thirds as much as smoking does. Specifically, patients who ate three or more yolks a week showed significantly more plaque than those who ate two or less yolks per week.

The issue is with the yolk, not the egg, says Spence, who is also a professor of neurology at the University of Western Ontario’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “One jumbo chicken egg yolk has about 237 milligrams of cholesterol.”

Keeping a diet low in cholesterol is key, says Spence.  Even if you are young and healthy, eating egg yolks can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases later.

So basically, the study found that people who ate egg yolks regularly (3 or more eggs per week) had a large increase in the thickness of the plaque in their carotid arteries compared to people who didn’t eat eggs.  This thickening, defined as atherosclerosis, is a major risk factor in heart disease and stroke.  Scary, huh?

The study is limited, however, since they did not take into account exercise and the waist circumference of the subjects.  I would also argue that foods people eat with their eggs (like hash browns, bacon, and sausage – yum!) may also be contributing to their findings.

For now, I recommend that you eat your eggs in moderation.  Also, consider using egg substitute, like Egg Beaters, whenever possible.  Remember, it’s the yolk of the egg that’s the problem, not the egg white.

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Posted in: Dr. Anthony Youn in the Media


  1. Ancels Keys, in his 1952 paper, “Human Atherosclerosis and the Diet” remarked that humans have an amazing capability to regulate serum cholesterol regardless of dietary cholesterol consumption. He remarked that it would take 10,000 to 15,000 mg of daily dietary cholesterol consumption to have any effect on serum cholesterol.

    There’a also never been a valid study proving the simplistic diet-heart hypothesis. Thousands of studies have been performed and all have failed.

    The use of validated food questionnaires is without value. They only result in poor data, and no amount of statistical manipulation can change bad data into meaningful results.

    Stick to doing what what I assume your good at. Science and critical thought is not your strong suit.

    Comment by Ed Terry on August 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

  2. Ed- you must work for the egg industry, I assume? I hope so, since spelling is not you’re strong suit. Or should I write “your?”
    Enjoy your three egg omelets! And don’t forget to get your carotids checked.

    Comment by Editor on August 17, 2012 at 1:21 am

  3. Did they distinguish between factory farmed eggs and pastured eggs? The lipid profiles are different. Also, not everyone is physiologically the same. I eat a lot (~a dozen a week) of pastured, organic eggs, and I have a total cholesterol of 135, with excellent HDL/LDL ratio, low BP, excellent blood lipid profile. I am a very active, thin and youthful 49 year old, and every doctor has always complemented me in amazement over my blood panels. A blanket recommendation to avoid eggs, salt, etc. isn’t for everyone. I would faint if I didn’t get adequate salt.

    Comment by Laurie on August 22, 2012 at 1:00 am

  4. Wow, that’s a great cholesterol level with such a high egg intake. I suspect genetics has a lot to do with some individual variation like this.

    Comment by Editor on August 31, 2012 at 1:24 am

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