Posted by Gary Schwitzer in Health care journalism
I could go on because Google produces more than 150 news story returns on the topic, but you’d be better off reading the Behind the Headlines conclusion:
This study found that egg yolk consumption was associated with increased fatty build-up in the arteries of the neck, though this was small when compared to the build-up expected with age. This study has important limitations which mean that it cannot be concluded that egg yolks are as bad for you as smoking:
- Average egg yolk consumption per week and duration was evaluated through a questionnaire response. These are only estimates and may include a considerable degree of inaccuracy. Consumption may vary over time. We also don’t know how these eggs were prepared (boiled, fried in oil, scrambled in butter, etc).
- This wasn’t a trial, and so people are choosing the number of egg yolks they eat. People who ate more egg yolks may differ in other health and lifestyle factors from people who ate less, and this may account for their different artery build-up. For example, as the researchers rightly acknowledge, they did not thoroughly assess other dietary factors, exercise or waist circumference. It is possible that higher egg yolk consumption could be associated with less exercise and higher overall saturated fat intake – both well known risk factors for heart disease. The small changes in fatty build-up in the arteries seen with higher egg yolk consumption could have been accounted for by these other factors.
- None of the participants in this study were reported to be suffering from heart disease and the heart arteries were not examined.
- We do not know how or whether the extent of fatty build-up in the neck arteries was associated with build-up in the heart arteries.
- This is a relatively small, select sample of people attending a vascular clinic in Canada, and further quality studies would be needed to better assess the question.
Addendum 30 minutes after original post: ABCNews.com posted, “Egg Study Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be.”
Another addendum 90 minutes after original post: One journalist has just pointed out to me that university news releases often add to the hype. That journalist sent me the news release from The University of Western Ontario, headlined, “Research finds egg yolks almost as bad as smoking.” If I could find additional funding to staff such an effort, I’d launch a News Release Review project in a heart beat.
Another addendum 8 days later: Cassandra Willyard posted her own coverage of the coverage – called “Egg-ceptionally Bad” on “The Last Word on Nothing.”