Research scrambles previous findings on health impact of eggs

Increased egg consumption is not associated with a higher risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke in the general population, research suggests.

The results contradict public health recommendations that advise people to restrict their egg consumption due to the high levels of cholesterol they contain.

However, the findings from the study also revealed that among individuals with diabetes, those with the highest egg consumption had a 54% higher CHD risk than those with the lowest, report Liegang Liu (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, People's Republic of China) and team in the BMJ.

Conversely, diabetic patients with the highest egg consumption had a 25% lower chance of experiencing hemorrhagic stroke.

The dose-response meta-analysis involved 210,404 patients, with 3,081,269 person-years of follow up for CHD and 4,148,095 person-years follow up for stroke across eight prospective cohort studies. There were 5847 incident cases of CHD and 7579 cases of stroke.

Liu et al found no evidence of a curve linear association between egg consumption and CHD or stroke risk. An increase of one egg consumed per day had no impact on the relative risk for CHD or stroke, with no heterogeneity among studies.

They say that apart from dietary cholesterol, saturated fat and dietary patterns might also influence blood cholesterol levels, which suggests that compliance with general dietary recommendations instead of just reducing egg consumption could have a more significant effect on reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease.

"[The] subgroup results should be interpreted with caution, because only a few studies focused on diabetic participants and particular stroke subtypes," warn the authors.

"Studies with larger sample sizes and longer follow-up times are warranted to confirm these subgroup results."

Liu and team add that information on the cooking methods of eggs or size of the eggs consumed was not available in most of the included studies. "To reduce this bias, we conducted a stratified analysis and found the results to be robust in different strata of covariates," they explain.

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