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Eating Eggs Will Kill You

Eating Eggs Will Kill You Remember the 1970s, when we thought eating eggs was really bad for you? Welcome back to the future.

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.

As the report notes, other studies go the other way. And, curiously, the study was limited to middle aged physicians.

The Harvard team studied 21,327 men taking part in the much larger Physicians’ Health Study, which has been watching doctors since 1981 who have agreed to report regularly on their health and lifestyle habits.

I’m not interested in paying $40 to download the study itself, and I’ve learned to be skeptical of press accounts of scientific research. The abstract indicates that “egg consumption was assessed with an abbreviated food questionnaire” and that “Cox regression was used to estimate relative risks.”

My natural instinct, though, is that the consumption of eggs is correlated with other behavior such as, say, the consumption of bacon and buttered toast. This seems to be confirmed by this, from the AP report:

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.

What’s not obvious to me — and a cursory reading of how Cox regression works isn’t helping me — is how those behaviors are factored in. Whether the increased mortality from high egg consumption was found after controlling for increased bacon consumption and decreased whole grain consumption, would be interesting to know.

Photo: Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company via Google

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    7 eggs a week bad, 6 eggs a week no problem. Right, that makes intuitive sense that there would be such a steep change. I mean it’s that seventh one that has your number on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. KJ says:

    On-Off. Good-Bad. Yes-No.

    Can someone please actually know what they are talking about before they tell us what is the next great epidemic of the week.

    Remember, water is a terrible thing. It causes the vast majority of drownings.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  3. Where those large or extra large eggs? Free range? Vegetarian chickens? Enquiring minds have to know!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. Death for breakfast…

    Want to bet this study was funded by the fruit lobby (“Big Fruit”) or maybe the whole-grain cereal lobby (“Big Bran”). I wonder if anyone has studied what bloggers eat for breakfast?…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Eggs? Never touch ‘em.

    I start every morning with three cups of coffee and a half-pack of Marlboros.

    Breakfast of champions!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4

  6. floyd says:

    Just wait five years and they will be healthy again![lol]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  7. Maggie Mama says:

    The reason medical studies bounce back and forth is very simple .. MONEY.

    One group does a study to prove X is bad; along comes another group to prove it is good.

    Some idiots somewhere (want to bet in many cases it is the American taxpayer)are funding all these studies and the scientists reap the financial rewards.

    And a whole slew of nervous Americans are dying from the stress of total confusion!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  8. Bithead says:

    I think what will end up killing me is the stress imposed by constantly being told what I can’t eat or I’ll die.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1