Background: Because egg yolk has a high cholesterol concentration, limited egg consumption is often suggested to help prevent ischemic heart disease (IHD).
Objective: We epidemiologically examined the validity of this recommendation.
Design: We analyzed the relations of egg consumption to serum cholesterol and cause-specific and all-cause mortality by using the NIPPON DATA80 (National Integrated Project for Prospective Observation of Non-communicable Disease And its Trends in the Aged, 1980) database. At the baseline examination in 1980, a nutritional survey was performed by using the food-frequency method in Japanese subjects aged > or =30 y. We followed 5186 women and 4077 men for 14 y.
Results: The subjects were categorized into 5 egg consumption groups on the basis of their responses to a questionnaire (> or =2/d, 1/d, 1/2 d, 1-2/wk, and seldom). There were 69, 1396, 1667, 1742, and 315 women in each of the 5 groups, respectively. Age-adjusted total cholesterol (5.21, 5.04, 4.95, 4.91, and 4.92 mmol/L in the 5 egg consumption categories, respectively) was related to egg consumption (P < 0.0001, analysis of covariance). In women, unadjusted IHD mortality and all-cause mortality differed significantly between the groups [IHD mortality: 1.1, 0.5, 0.4, 0.5, and 2.0 per 1000 person-years, respectively (P = 0.008, chi-square test); all-cause mortality: 14.8, 8.0, 7.5, 7.5, and 14.5 per 1000 person-years, respectively (P < 0.0001, chi-square test)]. In men, egg consumption was not related to age-adjusted total cholesterol. Cox analysis found that, in women, all-cause mortality in the 1-2-eggs/wk group was significantly lower than that in the 1-egg/d group, whereas no such relations were noted in men.
Conclusion: Limiting egg consumption may have some health benefits, at least in women in geographic areas where egg consumption makes a relatively large contribution to total dietary cholesterol intake.