Egg Consumption Poses Risks for Diabetic Men: Study

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
Thursday, April 10, 2008; 12:00 AM

THURSDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- A new study suggests that consuming more than six eggs a week seems to raise the risk of dying from all causes.

And diabetics seem to face an even higher mortality risk, according to the study that was limited to men.

"The more eggs diabetic men consumed, the more they increased their risk for death," said study lead author Dr. Luc Djousse, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Djousse and his team analyzed egg consumption and mortality data among more than 21,000 men who had participated in a Physician's Health Study that explored heart disease and cancer prevention among American male doctors.

Participants ranged in age from 40 to 86. Over an average of 20 years, all the doctors completed annual written questionnaires on daily egg consumption, stroke and heart attack incidence, diabetes status, cholesterol levels, alcohol and smoking habits, and general dietary information.

On average, the physicians were found to have consumed one egg a week -- a rate the study authors termed "relatively low."

Overall, egg consumption wasn't found to be associated with heart attack or stroke risk. And consumption of up to six eggs a week also wasn't found to be associated with a higher risk of death from all causes. But eating seven or more eggs a week among healthy study participants was linked to a 23 percent higher risk of death.

Even more striking was the finding that mortality risk was much higher among those doctors with diabetes. Consuming seven or more eggs a week doubled their risk of death from all causes, compared with diabetic doctors who ate just one egg each week.

The findings were published in the April issue ofThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and elevated LDL ("bad") cholesterol is a prime risk factor for cardiovascular trouble. And while eggs are rich in cholesterol -- and circulating cholesterol is related to the risk of cardiovascular disease -- the relationship between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol is complex. Some studies have suggested that dietary cholesterol doesn't affect blood cholesterol levels in many people, but it may in other individuals, such as those with diabetes, the researchers noted.

A single egg contains about 200 milligrams of cholesterol -- just 100 milligrams shy of the daily limit advocated for those at risk for heart disease, the researchers added.

On the other hand, eggs are a source of minerals, folate, B vitamins, protein and monounsaturated fats -- all of which have the potential to lower overall risk.


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