The Egg and Cigarette Connection
This weekend, while combing through various studies to answer some tough questions on fat loss, I came across a study that compared the eating of egg yolks to the effects of smoking and somehow summarized that they are equally harmful!
Needless to say, giving that article a quick read made me wince. Did I really read that right? I bookmarked the site and decided to revisit it today and find out what the heck this was all about?
The Egg Yolk and Cigarette Study
The study is entitled ‘Egg Yolk Consumption and Carotid Plaque’ and can be found at the online Atherosclerosis Journal. Specifically, the stated goal of this Canadian study was to look at overall plaque levels for participants who engaged in eating yolks and compare the results to those eating fewer yolks or none at all. The study states early on since the general public perception is that egg yolk cholesterol is considered insignificant, the study would further compare the results to those who were “regular smokers”, which was a definition I could not find a more detailed description on anywhere in the study.
Let’s jump to ‘The Findings’ and then discuss the details.
Of the 1262 persons studied, it was surmised that gobbling down egg yolks created a carotid plaque, in the same manner that smoking tobacco does. WebMD defines carotid plaque as a buildup of fatty substances and cholesterol deposits that creates a narrowing of the arteries. The final results indicate that those who regularly eat egg yolks have close to 2/3 the amount of plaque that regular smokers do.
This means that the claim really is that egg yolks create nearly the same amount of artery blocking plaque buildup as smoking. Hmm.. sounds suspect. Let’s look at the facts.
The Great Egg Yolk Scam
Clearly, the results of this study were biased and the more I looked into it, the more bias I found. It seems to be more of a shameful plug for getting attention than any kind of valid scientific study.
For starters, the European Atherosclerosis Journal is well known to publish articles that are aligned with their core belief system in promoting saturated fats and cholesterol being the cause of cardiovascular disease. That theory in itself has been dissected and proven wrong time and time again.
Understanding the motivation of the publishing group here is important. Publishing a study such as this one on egg yolks further promotes the organization’s efforts to increase public awareness on the dangers of fats and cholesterol.
Unfortunately, the egg yolk/cigarette study was built on the loosest foundation possible. Let’s look at the details of how these results were confirmed and published:
The research findings and final statistics were collected from the results of individual questionnaires.
There was no “hands on” surveying or close examination of participants involved? Just a letter sent to.. “Select the best answer and we’ll confirm our findings in a medical report.” Really? That easy?
The survey was said to focus on lifestyle factors (which were not revealed), medications taken, how many years participants smoked packs of cigarettes (not revealed) and how many egg yolks were consumed over the years. Shouldn’t we also be concerned with other dietary/nutritional habits? Isn’t it likely that they played a part too? This is as blatant a misuse of the A=B=C formula as I’ve ever seen.
All participants of the study had an average age of 62 years old and every one had previously had a stroke.
Wasn’t this study all about investigating cardiovascular health? Why did they choose to use patients all over the age of 60 with previous health conditions? Aside from the complete lack of focus on other nutrition, they also failed to look at healthy lifestyle factors in participants. How many were going to the gym and working out? How often?
Egg Yolks Debunked
After really digging in and reading the research involved, I’m surprised than any site with any sort of credibility would publish the findings.
If you’re on the fence about egg yolks, just remember that there are studies with far greater variable control that completely contradict the study being looked at here. This 2005 PubMed study confirms that eating 2 eggs every day did not increase LDL or total cholesterol. That’s 14 eggs every week with zero cholesterol effects!
Don’t trade your morning eggs in for a pack of smokes.