Our friends at The Daily Mail in the UK have been spreading a story that men who eat 2.5 eggs or more a week have an 81 per cent increase in their risk for lethal prostate cancer compared to men who do not. We assume that this is helping to sell newspapers. The scientific evidence appears to be limited.
To date, we have not actually been able to track down either the original media release or the original study from which The Daily Mail managed to extract this critically important new piece of information! Since one or other must exist somewhere, we can at least take some pleasure from the fact that the majority of the media did not consider this to be a particularly likely or well-validated news story. The Daily Mail provided no source for its initial report. [Ed.: See comments below for information about the original source material for the article in the Daily Mail and related commentary.]
Supposedly, the evidence comes from yet another analysis of data from the Physicians Health Study, which has been going on under the auspices of the Harvard School of Public Health for much of the past 20+ years. Some of the data that had come out of this study has been interesting and thought-provoking. Some of it appears to be of very dubious merit.
In this particular case the “evidence” that eating more than 2.5 eggs a week is associated with a large increase in risk for prostate cancer-specific mortality is based on data from 199 men who died of prostate cancer in a total sample size of 27,000. Of these 199 men, just 55 (about 0.2 percent of the total sample) reported eating more than 2.5 eggs per week. What is more, this association appears to take little to no account of a whole variety of other factors that might have also influenced the risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality in these patients.
An article on the web site of the Harvard School of Public Health deals specifically with the issue of egg consumption and the fact that excessive egg consumption may have significant health impact. However, it also states clearly that, “Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption — up to one a day — does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals.”
Since a heart healthy diet is generally considered to be a prostate healthy diet, it does not seem particularly likely that the 2.5 egg story has any great merit … and what is 0.5 of an egg anyway … only the white … or only the yolk?