To Egg or Not to Egg...

For as long as I can remember eggs have been America’s on again, off again lover, but as of this moment, they’re out…again. Reuters reports that Seven or More Eggs a Week Raises Risk of Death. Check it out:
Middle-aged men who ate seven or more eggs a week had a higher risk of earlier death, U.S. researchers reported on Wednesday.

Men with diabetes who ate any eggs at all raised their risk of death during a 20-year period studied, according to the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study adds to an ever-growing body of evidence, much of it contradictory, about how safe eggs are to eat. It did not examine what about the eggs might affect the risk of death.

Men without diabetes could eat up to six eggs a week with no extra risk of death, Dr. Luc Djousse and Dr. J. Michael Gaziano of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School found.

"Whereas egg consumption of up to six eggs a week was not associated with the risk of all-cause mortality, consumption of (seven or more) eggs a week was associated with a 23 percent greater risk of death," they wrote.

"However, among male physicians with diabetes, any egg consumption is associated with a greater risk of all-cause mortality, and there was suggestive evidence for a greater risk of MI (heart attack) and stroke."
Now, “seven or more eggs” sounds a bit excessive—don’t you think? Especially if you’re adhering to Dr. Fuhrman’s food pyramid. We talked about it earlier this week, but here’s another look:

Look closely:

If you’re eating more than seven eggs a week, you’re probably not eating them once weekly or less. Therein lies the problem. Too much animal foods—eggs included—and you’re playing with fire. Dr. Fuhrman explains:
Today the link between animal products and many different diseases is as strongly supporting in the scientific literature as the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. For example, subjects who ate meat, including poultry and fish, were found to be twice as likely to develop dementia (loss of intellectual function with aging) than their vegetarian counterparts in a carefully designed study.1 The discrepancy was further widened when past meat consumption was taken into account. The same diet, loaded with animal products, that causes heart disease and cancer also causes most every other disease prevalent in America including kidney stones, renal insufficiency and renal failure, osteoporosis, uterine fibroids, hypertension, appendicitis, diverticulosis, and thrombosis.2
But, Dr. Fuhrman is hardly anti-egg. Here’s why:
If you choose a limited amount of animal products to be included in your family’s diet, I favor eggs over fish or dairy, because of the potential for transmission of chemicals, mercury, and PCBs in the fish and dairy. Eggs, because they are virtually pollution-free, would be favored choice over other animal products to add to an otherwise vegan diet.
And for reference, check out egg’s Nutrient Scores:

So, I think you can ignore the wishy-washy research on eggs and just view them as other animal products—best kept to a minimum.

1. Glem, P., W. L. Beeson, and G.E. Faser. 1993. The incidence of dementia and intake of animal products: preliminary findings from Adventist Health Study. Neuroepidemiology 12: 28-36.

2. Fellstrom, B., B. G. Daneilson, B. Kerlstrom, et al. 1983. The influence of a high dietary intake of purine-rich animal protein on urinary excretion and supersaturation in renal stoen disease. Clinical Science 64: 399-405; Robertson, W.G., M. Peacock , and P. J. Heyburn. 1979. Should recurrent calcium oxalate stone formers become vegetarians? B.J. Urol. 51: 427-31; Bosch, L.P., A. Saccaggi, A. Lauer, et al. 1983. Renal functional reserve in humans, effect of protein intake on glomerula filtration rate. Am. J. Med. 75: 943-50; Effects of acute protein loads of different sources on glomerula filtration rate. 1987. Kidney International 32 (22): S25-28; Kerstetter, J. E., and L. H. Allen. 1989. Dietary protein increases urinary calcium. J. Nutr. 120: 134-136 Breslau, N.A., L. Brinkley, K.D. Hill, and C.Y.C. Pak. 1988. Relationship of animal protein-rich diet to kidney stone formation and calcium metabolism. J. Clin. Endocr. And Metab. 66: 140-46; Chiaffarino, op. cit., p. 395; Wiseman, M.J., R. Hunt. A. Goodwin, et al. 1987. Dietary composition and renal function in healthy subjects. Nephron. 46: 37-42; Appleby, P.N., M. Thorogood, J. I. Mann, T.J. Key. 1999. The Oxford Vegetarian Study: and overview. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 70 (3): 525-31S; Nordoy, A., and S.H. Goodnight. 1990. Dietary lipids and thrombosis: relationship to atherosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis 10 (2): 149-63.
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Comments (7) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Melody Scherubel - April 10, 2008 1:49 PM

One reason could be the horrible, filthy conditions egg-laying hens are raised in?

Sara - April 10, 2008 10:45 PM

Actually Dr. Fuhrman has told some people that they should eat eggs I think it was one every other day with an otherwise vegan diet. It has to do with need for more of a certain amino acid. - only some people need this.

day - April 15, 2008 8:40 AM

There are so, soo many ways one can alter their diet for the better, including lessening egg intake or just about any other single item... vegetarians need just be a bit craftier, you know? Or non-egg eaters, or whatever. One of the main benefits I see to being vegetarian is that one is really forced to consider what it is they are eating to make sure they are getting everything their body needs in lieu of meat, but this need not be an exclusive non-meat-eaters pact...

Everyone just being more aware of what they have in their diet and what nutrients they do not have would start moving all in the right direction. Just pay attention, its a start anyway.

here is a good outline for dietary nutritional needs folks might want to check:

Tracy Bradley - April 25, 2008 7:39 PM

You missed this part of the article:

"Men who ate the most eggs also were older, fatter, ate more vegetables but less breakfast cereal, and were more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and less likely to exercise -- all factors that can affect the risk of heart attack and death."

So according to this, eggs, being old, being fat, eating vegetables, not eating breakfast cereal, drinking, smoking and no exercise cause heart disease? Sounds like a pretty poor study - and even worse reporting.

Gerry Pugliese - April 25, 2008 10:34 PM

Hey Tracy-

Wow! You have pretty poor reading comprehension. Eating too many animal products, including eggs, is miserable for your health. Don't be fooled by the low-carb peddlers trying to make a buck off your emotional attachment to food.


Silvine Farnell - September 5, 2008 6:43 PM

what about omega-3 eggs, hens fed algae, so they're rich in DHA?

Pat - March 16, 2012 9:18 AM

Research by Harvard University in 2003 found that eating eggs as an adolescent could help prevent breast cancer as an adult. In 2005, another study showed that women eating at least six eggs per week had a 44 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who ate two or fewer eggs each week.

In April 2008, researchers from the University of North Carolina found that choline (present in egg yolks) can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 24 percent. An egg yolk contains 125.5 milligrams of choline, about a quarter of the recommended daily intake, so just two poached eggs for breakfast provies half your choline for the day

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