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Is consuming eggs associated with heart or cardiovascular disease (CVD) and increased chances of premature death?

A new study in the leading medical journal JAMA states that eggs, the staple breakfast diet is a high source of dietary cholesterol, which has been purported to be linked to increased risk of heart disease and premature death. Researchers from Chicago’s Northwestern University analyzed data from almost 30,000 U.S. adults over three decades. Data from participants in 6 prior cohort studies in the United States were pooled for the analysis. The median follow-up for subjects in the studies was 17.5 years. 

The primary results show that eating three to four eggs per week was linked to an approximately 6 percent increase in a person's risk of developing heart diseases and an 8 percent increase in their risk of dying prematurely from any cause during the study period when compared with not eating eggs.

The researchers further proposed a dose-response relationship for these outcomes: Each additional 300 mg of dietary cholesterol (average amount in 1 egg) consumed per day was significantly associated with ~3% higher risk of incident CVD and ~4% all-cause risk of death. An additional half an egg consumed per day was significantly associated with a higher 1.1% risk of incident CVD and 1.9% all-cause higher risk of death. This is one of the largest and unprecedented studies of its kind. 

The researchers, however, do emphasize that these results show an association and results are not able to suggest a cause-effect relationship. Additionally, they note on a cautious note that the focus should remain on the primary perpetrator which is dietary cholesterol. Eggs (specifically yolks) happen to be a cholesterol-rich commonly consumed food. 

This study reverberates well with a message this year also issued from a panel of nutrition agriculture and environmental experts which recommended limiting eggs to fewer than four per week, restricting red meat to once a week at the max and to focus on increasing whole grains, nuts and fruits in your diet. Refer to the EAT forum study here: https://eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/

Please access the referred study in the article here

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2728487

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

By Ruchika Goel, MD MPH

Dr. Ruchika Goel is an Asst. Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU School of Medicine and an Adjunct Asst. Professor in School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. She is a mother of twins, a dedicated pediatrician, and an enthusiastic traveler and writer.  

Cardiology


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