14 August 2012

Egg yolks up there with smoking for cardio damage

by Will Parker

Newly published Canadian research in the journal Atherosclerosis shows that eating egg yolks accelerates coronary artery disease in a manner similar to smoking cigarettes.

Coronary artery disease, known as atherosclerosis, is a disorder of the arteries where plaques, aggravated by cholesterol, form on the inner arterial wall. Plaque rupture is the usual cause of most heart attacks and many strokes.

Surveying more than 1200 patients at London Health Sciences Centre's University Hospital, researcher David Spence found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque. Spence stressed that the findings were independent of sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index and diabetes.

The researchers found carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after age 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and egg yolk-years. In other words, compared to age, both tobacco smoking and egg yolk consumption accelerate atherosclerosis. The study also found those eating three or more yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate two or fewer yolks per week.

"The mantra 'eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people' has confused the issue. It has been known for a long time that a high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have a very high cholesterol content. In diabetics, an egg a day increases coronary risk by two to five-fold," said Spence. "What we have shown is that with aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries of Canadians, and egg yolks make it build up faster - about two-thirds as much as smoking. In the long haul, egg yolks are not okay."

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Source: University of Western Ontario