Bad Egg

Image Credit: barbourians / Flickr. This image has been modified.

In 2008, the Harvard Physician’s Health Study, which followed about about 20,000 physicians for 20 years, found that those eating just a single egg a day or more had significantly higher total mortality risk, meaning eating just one egg a day was significantly associated with living, on average, a shorter life. Later that year, that same single serving of egg was significantly associated with death and hospitalization from heart failure.

In 2009, it was diabetes. We’d known how bad eggs were for people with diabetes (doubling their risk of death), but it wasn’t until “Egg Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men and Women”—another Harvard study—that we learned how much eating eggs increases our risk of getting the dreaded disease in the first place. Compared to those eating less than an egg a week, men eating just one a day appear to raise their risk of developing type 2 diabetes 58%, and women, 77% more risk.

That’s all old news I’ve covered before (here and here). What’s the latest? Well, whereas the twin Harvard death and diabetes studies followed mostly middle-aged men and women in their early 50s, the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study, published this summer, found that the risk associated with eggs extends well into one’s seventies. And if eggs raise one’s risk of type 2 diabetes so much, what about gestational diabetes, the loss of blood sugar control affecting up to 1 in 10 pregnancies? It was apparently never researched until this year, when a new study found that women eating one egg a day or more doubled their odds. “In conclusion,” the researchers write, “high egg and cholesterol intakes before and during pregnancy are associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes mellitus.”

The most important study, though, was a landmark review published last fall. It is the subject of my video-of-the-day both today and tomorrow. On Friday I’ll continue the theme of science scrambled by the egg industry. Yesterday’s video-of-the-day concerned the dairy industry’s attempt to mislead the public about milk and mucus. S’not as bad as the egg industry trying to downplay the risks of cholesterol, though, with egg consumption now tied to diabetes, heart failure, and premature death.

-Michael Greger, M.D.

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