Study comparing egg consumption to smoking angers researcher

11-11-2010 | | |

A Canadian research review which drew unfavourable comparisons between the effect on the body of consuming eggs and smoking or eating fast food has prompted an angry response from an expert on dietary cholesterol.

Bruce Griffin, Professor of Nutritional Metabolism at the University of Surrey, described the paper published last week, and reported by a variety of main steam media outlets, as “emotive” and “unbalanced”.

“Its condemnation of dietary cholesterol in eggs is emotive, unbalanced and its comparisons with burgers and smoking outlandish,” Professor Griffin says.

Published in The Canadian Journal of Cardiology the review attacks research by scientists, including Professor Griffin. The paper draws comparisons between eating eggs and consuming fast food as well as smoking and lung cancer.

“Stopping the consumption of eggs after a stroke or a myocardial infarction would be like quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer; a necessary action, but late,” the review said. Professor Griffin took issue with the review drawing the comparisons between smoking and eating food high in saturated fat.

Dietary cholesterol in eggs
“Worst of all, the review draws comparisons between dietary cholesterol in eggs and the cholesterol in a monster burger that is packed full of saturated fat, and even worse, smoking and lung cancer. These comparisons are absurd and frankly professionally irresponsible,” Professor Griffin says.

“It is inconceivable that even these authors, who are all MDs, would consider that eating eggs confers the same risk to vascular disease as smoking does to lung cancer; this is ridiculous.”

The authors compare eggs to a type of “monster burger” which, they say, contains less cholesterol than a large egg yolk. “The authors have totally disregarded the cholesterol raising potential of the saturated fat in this burger which is no less than 20 times greater than the cholesterol-raising potential of a large egg yolk.”

While Professor Griffin agreed with the authors that restricting cholesterol intake is a good idea for those diagnosed with vascular disease, diabetes and raised LDL cholesterol he said limits should not apply to the majority of people. “From a nutritional standpoint, restricting the consumption of eggs is inappropriate for attaining a balanced healthy diet in a large percentage (70-80%) of the free-living population,” he says.

In recent years various insititutions, including the Food Standards Agency have removed limits on the consumption of eggs and suggest they are eaten as part of a balanced diet.