Eggs are in the news again. Is it good news this time or bad news?
Well–it’s both. Yet again, eggs are confusing us all by being nutritious, but associated with certain health risks.
According to recent studies, the news looks good if you’re a woman trying to avoid breast cancer; not quite so good if you’re a middle aged man who eats more than one a day.
The Good News: Eggs and Breast Cancer
A recent study out of the University of North Carolina suggests that women who consumed more choline, a nutrient found in eggs, had a reduced risk of breast cancer. The study involved 3,000 women and concluded that those who got the most of the nutrient had a 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer.
Choline is found only in the yolk of the egg. It’s also present in other food, like liver, wheat germ and cauliflower, coffee, and skim milk. According to the researchers, only about 10% of Americans get enough of it.
(Previous research, like a 2003 Harvard study, has also shown an association between egg consumption and reduced breast cancer risk.)
Now the Bad News: Middle Aged Men May Want to be Cautious
A 20 year study of male physicians published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition had some unfortunate news for men who ate more than 6 eggs a week: they had a higher risk of earlier death. Men with diabetes died sooner if they ate any eggs at all.
Researchers concluded that while “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.”
However, the men who ate the most eggs were older, fatter, ate more vegetables but less breakfast cereal, and were more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and less likely to exercise.
This caveat makes one wonder: are egg-eating physicians less healthy generally than granola-crunching physicians? One would presume that these factors were taken into account in the data analysis, but if not, perhaps the eggs weren’t the real culprit.
Researchers suggested further study was needed. In the meantime, Dr. Robert Eckel, a nutrition expert from the University of Colorado (and former president of the American Heart Association) urged caution for middle-aged men.
Do you eat eggs? Do you plan to continue?
I grew up with the idea that eggs were a healthy way to get protein for breakfast. Then came the news they had Evil Cholesterol, and many health-conscious folks like me started to avoid them.
Then researchers figured out that the cholesterol in the eggs wasn’t all that problematic, and eggs started to look like a great convenient choice again. (I get tired of yogurt every morning, and morning alternatives often seem to involved smoked or cured meats–foods I have more concerns about than I do about eggs).
I probably eat about 7 eggs a week myself, the kind with a bit of an Omega-3 boost, and don’t plan to stop. But then I’m female and getting tired of the back-and-forth on eggs.
How about you folks? Are you chicken to eat eggs or do you gobble them with gusto?