August 15 2012

Eggs: Back on the Bad List

Julie Gunlock

Like bell bottoms and macramé, food warnings come back in style every few years.  And now, it's time again to demonize the egg.  I guess it was only a matter of time. In recent years, soda and beef and fish and cheese and milk and fast food and sugar and salt have all had turns. 

It's time again to focus on the big bad egg.

According to a new study published this week in the journal Atherosclerosis, egg yolks consumption among those over 40 can accelerate the thickening of arteries almost as severely as cigarettes.  According to an LA Times article, the study "measured the carotid wall thickness -- a key indicator of heart disease risk -- of 1,231 patients referred to a vascular prevention clinic, and asked each to detail a wide range of their health habits, from smoking and exercise to their consumption of egg yolks. Just as smoking is often tallied as "pack-years" (the number of cigarette packs smoked per day for how many years), egg-yolk consumption was tallied as "egg yolk years" (the number of egg yolks consumed per week times the number of years they were eaten)."

Naturally, this new study is generating the normal number of panicked headlines about egg-causing heart disease. But, as the LA Times notes, the "study subjects were typically referred to the clinic after having suffered a clot-induced stroke or a transient ischemic attack -- a "mini-stroke" in which symptoms may disappear quickly but which often presage a more serious stroke to come."

So, let’s review: these people were already suffering from heart disease. Got it.  Many of them smoked. Got it.  They had varying exercise habits. Got it.

Is it any wonder people just shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes at these doomsday food warnings? The American public is increasingly indifferent to these dire predictions.  Beef causes cancer, eggs are dangerous, tuna fish has mercury, sugar is toxic, milk makes kids fat, blah blah blah.

Don't worry, egg lovers.  In a few years, eggs will make their comeback.  In the meantime, look out New Yorkers, Mayor Boob-berg might soon decide he needs to save you from your egg salad sandwich.

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