Eggs Increase Risk for Diabetes?

Research from Harvard Medical School suggests that eating an egg a day may increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes (Diabetes Care, December 2008). This is the first large study to support the general belief that eating eggs frequently may harm you. However, animal studies have failed to show any association between eating eggs and diabetes, and the authors of this study did not offer any explanation for the increased risk.

The authors studied 20,703 male physicians without diabetes from the Physicians' Health Study (1982-2007) and 36,295 non-diabetic female health professionals from the Women's Health Study (1992-2007). The men were followed for 20 years and the women for 11 years. Men who ate seven or more eggs per week were 58 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and women eating a similar amount were 77 percent more likely to become diabetic than those who did not eat eggs. Risk for diabetes was lower when fewer eggs were eaten (9 percent for one egg per week, 18 percent for two to four eggs and 46 percent for five to six eggs).

This was a self-reported study so it is possible that the people who eat eggs also have other habits that increase their risk. For example, they may be more likely also to eat meat, which may increase diabetes risk, as I reported in the November 9 issue of the eZine.

An egg is a very rich source of saturated fat (1.5 grams) and cholesterol (200 mg), but adding three eggs per day to the average Americans’ diet does not raise cholesterol levels. Cholesterol in eggs has very little effect on blood cholesterol levels in healthy adults. Several studies show no relationship between eating eggs and increased risk for heart disease or stroke and most people can eat one egg a day without increasing heart disease risk. (Journal references for these studies) I eat eggs 2-3 days per week and will continue to do so unless more persuasive research comes along.

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