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Eggs and cholesterol: newest studies may be biased

Results from a number of recent studies claiming that eating eggs does not raise cholesterol levels may be questionable. [Adobestock photo]

In recent years, a number of studies have claimed that eating eggs frequently does not raise levels of blood cholesterol as previously believed. But the newer claims could be the result of faulty and misleading research funded by the egg industry, according to researchers with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The group examined nearly 70 years of research studies pertaining to the effect of eggs on blood cholesterol, published between 1950 and 2019, comparing the studies’ methods and results with their funding sources. The analysis showed that prior to 1970, the egg industry played no funding role at all in cholesterol research. 

However, the percentage of industry-funded studies gradually increased over time, reaching 60% in the period from 2010 to 2019.

“In recent years, the egg industry has sought to neutralize eggs’ unhealthy image as a cholesterol-raising product by funding more studies and skewing the interpretation of the results,” said study author Neal Barnard, M.D., the committee’s president. Overall, Barnard said, more than 85% of the studies – whether they were funded by the egg industry or not – showed that eggs have unhealthy effects on LDL [or “bad”] cholesterol, but industry-funded studies were more likely to downplay those findings. 

Of 153 studies analyzed in the committee’s report, published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 139 showed that eggs do indeed raise blood cholesterol [68 of these reached statistical significance, meaning the results were not likely due to chance]. No studies reported significant net decreases in blood cholesterol related to egg consumption. 

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