Egg Consumption has Almost the Same Effect with Smoking on Coronary Artery Disease, New Study Found

By Sharon Moore on August 14, 2012

Breakfasts are incomplete without eggs. But you really don’t want to serve it too often. In a new study, researchers looked into the effects of consuming egg yolks and its effects on atherosclerosis. Surprisingly, they found that egg yolk is almost as bad as smoking in stimulating the formation of carotid plaque, a common cause of heart attack.

Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disorder characterised by the build-up of plaque on the internal walls of the arteries, causing rupture. Also called coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis is among the most common causes of stroke.

The study, which was led by Dr. David Spence of Western University, involved 1,231 patients attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital. He is a Neurology professor at the Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and director of its Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre (SPARC) at the Robarts Research Institute.

The participants were composed of men and women with a mean age of 61.5. Prior the study, the researchers measured the total plaque area in the arteries of the patients through ultrasound. They were also given questionnaires that seek to determine their lifestyle particularly their diet, medications, and smoking habits. They were also asked of the number of eggs yolks they consumed every week and ever year.

The researchers found a slight increase in the carotid plaque area in patients above 40. However, there’s a huge increase among those who had been smoking and eating egg yolks for years. They also found that those who consumed three or more yolks every week developed atherosclerosis faster than those who ate 2 or fewer yolks per week.

This is not the first time that the health risks of consuming eggs have been studied. It has long been established that eating an egg yolk everyday increases the risk of coronary disease in diabetic patients by two to five folds. Egg yolk is high in cholesterol, which is a major risk factor for heart problems. However, the idea that eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people bring many people to confusion, explained Dr Spence. What was clear in their findings is that egg yolk speeds up the build-up of carotid plaque at a rate which is around two-thirds that of smoking. Although it has benefits too, consuming egg yolks in the long run may not be good for the health, he suggests.

Over time, egg yolk increases the formation of plaque in the arteries, despite the differences in sex, blood pressure, cholesterol level, body mass index, diabetes, and smoking. The research didn’t overthrow the idea that eggs benefit our health. However, they recommend people at risk of cardiovascular disease to avoid regular consumption of egg yolks. Dr Spence also highlighted the need for further research which would take into consideration other factors such as waist conference and exercise.

The study is published in the online journal Atherosclerosis.


Source of this study:

Research finds egg yolks almost as bad as smoking, Western News


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