If your so-called "BS meter" suddenly pegged, you had good reason to be skeptical. Turns out the scientists who conducted the study have ties to Big Pharma.
First, a little recap.
Writing in the journal Atherosclerosis, researchers lumped the consumption of egg yolks with smoking, saying in essence that one was just as bad as the other in clogging your arteries.
Dr. J. David Spence, a professor of neurology at Western University in Canada, wrote that he and his team found a relationship between the consumption of egg yolks and the development of atherosclerosis, a condition in which arteries become clogged, causing a range of health problems, the most prominent of which are heart attack and stroke. In atherosclerosis, plaque accumulates over time along the walls of arteries, narrowing them.
The team surveyed 1,231 middle-aged male and female patients who had been referred to a vascular clinic at the London Health Sciences Center's University Hospital after they had suffered a "mini-stroke" or a regular stroke.
Spence's team examined the patients' carotid wall thickness then compared it with answers about egg yolk consumption, exercise habits, smoking and other lifestyle factors. In the end, Spence and his team concluded that the top 20 percent of egg consumers had narrowing of the carotid artery that was two-thirds that of smokers.
Spence admitted that it did not have data to look at overall dietary patterns, and that, say other experts, is part of the problem.
Spence's entire research seems to be predicated on a single questionnaire in which the patients examined were asked about "their lifestyle and medications, including pack-years of smoking, and the number of egg yolks consumed per week times the number of years consumed (egg-yolk years)."
Further, according to paleolithic health guru Mark Sisson, study methodology that is dependent upon the subject's memory, honesty and accuracy is, by definition, unreliable.
"Moreover, since it's a single data point, no causality can be ascribed," adds a critique of the study by the Alliance for Natural Health.
"This study does not address other dietary factors known to influence cardiovascular risk, such as saturated and trans fat, or dietary fiber," Dr. David J. Gordon, a special assistant for clinical studies at the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute, told Huffington Post.
Funded by Big Pharma
Furthermore, the study's authors admitted to conflicts of interest when performing a similar study two years ago, the ANH pointed out. In a special "Conflicts of Interest" section posted at the end of the study, which was published in The Canadian Journal of Cardiology, while Spence and his team "receives funding from the purveyors of margarine or eggs," Spence, along with fellow team member Dr. Jean Davignon, "have received honoraria and speaker's fees from several pharmaceutical companies manufacturing lipid-lowering drugs." In addition, Davignon "has received support from Pfizer Canada for an annual atherosclerosis symposium; his research has been funded in part by Pfizer Canada, AstraZeneca Canada Inc and Merck Frosst Canada Ltd.," the disclosure said.
The ANH said it smells a rat.
"See how this works? Big Pharma has a vested interest in selling drugs to lower cholesterol," the group said in its critique. "Big Pharma funds research that says our favorite breakfast food causes high cholesterol (which is not true). The idea is to give people...a false choice: change a lifelong dietary habit, or pop a pill. Big Pharma thinks they know which choice most people will make."
Full disclosure: A number of physicians and the Mayo Clinic believe egg yolks can be harmful, if eaten in excess. And at least one study - detailed here - found that eggs are lower in cholesterol (while higher in vitamin D) than originally thought.