Eggs – A Risk Factor for Atherosclerosis Equivalent to Smoking?
Eggs are considered as one of the key components of a traditional English breakfast and for egg lovers, nothing beats that protein boost they need to start the day. However, new research at the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, which suggests that egg yolk could be seen as a risk factor for stroke and heart attack may struggle to put off egg lovers.
Having surveyed 1,231 men and women, the findings suggest that regular consumption of egg yolk accelerates atherosclerosis, an effect which is more often linked to smoking cigarettes. Atherosclerosis, commonly known as coronary artery disease, is a disorder of the arteries where plaques, aggravated by cholesterol, form on the inner arterial wall. Rupture of this plaque is the usual cause of most heart attacks and many strokes. The study found that those eating at least three yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate up to two yolks per week.
The study involved patients, with a mean age of 61.5, visiting vascular prevention clinics in Ontario. An ultrasound was used to establish a measurement of total plaque area and questionnaires were filled out regarding the patients’ lifestyles. The research found that after 40, carotid plaque area increased in line with age, but after years of regular smoking and egg yolk consumption it increased exponentially. Dr David Spence, the lead author of the study revealed that eating the yolk of an egg is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid.
Dr Spence, 67, who is also a neurology professor, said: “The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue. High cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have a very high cholesterol content so with age, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries and egg yolks make it build up faster.”
Spence added that the effects were independent of sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index and diabetes. And while he feels the need for more research, he emphasized that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease.
The research has been published online in the journal, Atherosclerosis.
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