Context: Reduction in egg consumption has been widely recommended to lower blood cholesterol levels and prevent coronary heart disease (CHD). Epidemiologic studies on egg consumption and risk of CHD are sparse.
Objective: To examine the association between egg consumption and risk of CHD and stroke in men and women.
Design and setting: Two prospective cohort studies, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-1994) and the Nurses' Health Study (1980-1994).
Participants: A total of 37851 men aged 40 to 75 years at study outset and 80082 women aged 34 to 59 years at study outset, free of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, or cancer.
Main outcome measures: Incident nonfatal myocardial infarction, fatal CHD, and stroke corresponding to daily egg consumption as determined by a food-frequency questionnaire.
Results: We documented 866 incident cases of CHD and 258 incident cases of stroke in men during 8 years of follow-up and 939 incident cases of CHD and 563 incident cases of stroke in women during 14 years of follow-up. After adjustment for age, smoking, and other potential CHD risk factors, we found no evidence of an overall significant association between egg consumption and risk of CHD or stroke in either men or women. The relative risks (RRs) of CHD across categories of intake were less than 1 per week (1.0), 1 per week (1.06), 2 to 4 per week (1.12), 5 to 6 per week (0.90), and > or =1 per day (1.08) (P for trend = .75) for men; and less than 1 per week (1.0), 1 per week (0.82), 2 to 4 per week (0.99), 5 to 6 per week (0.95), and > or =1 per day (0.82) (P for trend = .95) for women. In subgroup analyses, higher egg consumption appeared to be associated with increased risk of CHD only among diabetic subjects (RR of CHD comparing more than 1 egg per day with less than 1 egg per week among diabetic men, 2.02 [95% confidence interval, 1.05-3.87; P for trend = .04], and among diabetic women, 1.49 [0.88-2.52; P for trend = .008]).
Conclusions: These findings suggest that consumption of up to 1 egg per day is unlikely to have substantial overall impact on the risk of CHD or stroke among healthy men and women. The apparent increased risk of CHD associated with higher egg consumption among diabetic participants warrants further research.