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Response to survey published in Journal of the American Heart Association
A survey of more than 100,000 older women in America has reported that consuming plant protein appears to reduce the risk of deaths from cancer and heart disease, while eating eggs and meat increase it. In contrast, the survey reported that consuming eggs reduces deaths from dementia by 14 per cent. However, these findings conflict with other studies which find no impact of egg consumption on any of these outcomes.
This survey does not tell us about the impact of eggs on health because it was not designed to do so. The survey did not focus on egg consumption nor control for other important factors which can impact on health.
In the survey, people who ate the most animal-based products were more likely to have pre-existing type 2 diabetes, be overweight, have a stronger family history of heart disease, eat more saturated fat and less fibre. These are much more likely to affect heart disease risk than including eggs in the diet. The statistical associations discovered for eggs were very weak and cannot be translated into real-life risk.
The survey conflicts with several other studies which show no relationships between egg consumption and risk of illness or death. For example, a study of more than 215,000 adults published last year in the British Medical Journal1 found that people who ate seven eggs a week were no more likely to develop coronary heart disease or stroke compared with people who didn’t eat eggs. This finding held even when the researchers adjusted for age, lifestyle, and dietary factors. Another study of more than 400,000 adults in nine European countries2 found that eggs were not linked with heart disease.
Public health bodies are clear that eating eggs in a healthy, balanced diet does not increase the risk to heart disease, stroke or cancer. Eggs are rich in protein and other nutrients essential for good health.