The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. ... In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. George Orwell

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Eggs and cardiovascular mortality

It has been recently reported (see for example this) that:

A Harvard study of over 21,000 male physicians found that men who ate up to 6 eggs a week had no increase in their rate of death. But once they ate a seventh egg, their risk of death went up 23%. The men were studied over a 20-year period...
However, when one looked at the data in more details, a completely different picture emerges.  See for example this study.

It turns out that the group that ate ≥7 eggs per week (the highest bin) happened also to have more than twice (4-2 times)  the rate of diabetes (and were older) compared with the lower egg bins!  See Table 1.   Since diabetes t2 increases the risk of death by a factor of 5 (5 to 10) , this factor alone may explain an increase in the death risk among the 7 egg group!

The death risk was about the total mortality.  There was a statistically marginal increase in total mortality in the highest group (see Table 4) but it wasn't confirmed neither by the MI risk (Table 2  - in fact the risk goes down!)  nor by stroke (Table 3 - the risk stays the same).   Unfortunately the authors do not mention what were the 7 egg group dying from.

 This may have nothing to do with eggs but everything to do with diabetes!

Other studies not only fail to confirm that eggs correlate with cardio-vascular risk, but show in fact some  risk reduction, especially significant in case of stroke!  See for example this  or that study.


john said...

Hmm, many of these studies do not even approach levels at which I have been. There have been extended periods where I have eaten about 12 eggs per day, though sometimes I throw out some of the white. There are probably negative effects of the high AA content though, especially with poor quality eggs, so I have not eaten as many lately.

Of course, we could find people to say the cholesterol and fat content is causing diabetes and hence death.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Negative effects of dietary AA (Arachidonic Acid) are probably another myth. The effects of AA dodn't seem to be uniformly bad or good, based on some papers I read. I think it is a wrong lead as far as a diet evaluation is concerned. I suspect that the same applies to polyunsaturated omega-6 acids - neither good nor bad. It depends on other factors.

I doubt if you ever find any negative effects of eating eggs, even 12 a day. There were days when we would eat 12 egg yolks at once, per person, raw, thoroughly ground in a cup with a mixer with a teaspoon of sugar and cocoa. The only side effect was that any cold we used to have went away overnight. That was my mom's famous cold and flue remedy.

LeonRover said...

Bin there, do dat.

I have eaten, and continue to eat, at least one dozen and a half eggs a week for at least 50 years.

As an MSc(Stats), I have paid little attention to the ramblings of (in my view) the UNprofessional use of risk analysis used in epidemiology since reading the flawed reports of MRFIT and WHO trials in early 1980's.

Epidemiologist heal thy Science.

Stan (Heretic) said...


It is very reassuring! You are proving them wrong by refusing to die a sudden death by eggs! However, they may be right after all, its a slow process. Wait another 50 years... 8-:)

I think it is not only an unprofessional use of statistics, it is also a professional (in many cases) setting up of a study in such a way as it would not even by accident discover what shall remain undiscovered, and that it would always report a "correct" result regardless of some naughty facts or statistics. 8-:)


"Is it still a conspiracy _theory_ if they are out there to get me?"

john said...


What is your counter argument to the idea that more AA or polyunsaturated fat in general is simply more sensitive, leading to more lipofuscin, inflammation, etc? I would guess the effects are less pronounced with proper food choices/lifestyle, but I would also guess a very low amount is optimal.

Anonymous said...

"That was my mom's famous cold and flue remedy."

I was talking to my mom the other day (her mom who grew up in the depression era) and she said that when they were sick grandma or nanna would have us eat eggs.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.