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Response to Canadian research

15/08/2012

Response to Canadian research published in Atherosclerosis

The British Egg Information Service questions the conclusion of this research as it is not clear if the alleged link is causal or an unrelated association. Key points are:

  • The researchers behind the Canadian study did not take into account other lifestyle factors that will impact on cholesterol such as; saturated fat intake, alcohol intake, exercise etc, therefore  it would be an over-simplification of the data to suggest a clear correlation between the number of egg yolks eaten and cardiovascular disease risk.
  • High egg consumption is often associated with consumption of foods high in saturated fat e.g. processed meat and full fat dairy products.  Those that ate at least two egg yolks a week may have generally had a poor diet that was high in saturated fat, drank heavily and done little exercise but as full dietary data have not been not presented by the authors it is not possible to be certain about this and not valid to make sweeping suggestions concerning cardiovascular risk and an association with one dietary component.
  • Those in the highest egg consumption group actually had the lowest blood cholesterol levels.
  • The research relied on self-reported consumption data to quantify intake which is often unreliable.
  • The average age of those taking part in the study was 61.5 years and carotid plaque rises anyway after the age of 40.
  • The Canadian research goes against current scientific thinking. A study carried out by the University of Surrey which analysed 30 studies conducted over 30 years concluded that eggs have no clinically significant impact on cholesterol levels. The Department of Health and the British Heart Foundation both advise that for most people there is no limit to the amount of eggs they can eat in a week.