I was surprised and dismayed to see an article headlining CNN today, "Is eating egg yolks as bad as smoking?" I was pretty worried, as you can imagine: three years ago I quit smoking after 20 years of a pack-a-day habit. Yet I eat at least an egg a day on average, because I have three pet chickens, and what else are you going to do.
Eggs are NOT as bad as smoking!
And CNN should be ashamed for saying otherwise.
But I was suspicious of this article right up front. First of all, I recently had my cholesterol levels tested, and all three of my numbers were literally perfect. As in, if they had been any lower, it would have been into the "cause for concern" category.
Eggs were considered the enemy for a long time. But recent studies exonerated the egg. Cholesterol levels turn out to be much more about genetics than about what you eat. And eggs are high in Omega 3 fatty acids that are difficult to get otherwise. Eggs are a cheap, healthy form of protein.
(Why pick on eggs, anyway? In a world where the Baconator exists, surely we can find better targets of nutritional outrage.)
This CNN news story turns out to be an example of the horrible state of science reporting in America. It is sourced from a Daily Mail article (the Daily Mail is basically a tabloid) which itself cites a Canadian study that had poor controls, and which in no way proves that eggs are as bad as smoking. Not even a little bit.
But "Eggs are probably fine for you" is not a headline that grabs eyeballs. "Eggs are as bad as smoking" is catchy, the kind of thing that get's people's attention and sticks in their minds. If it isn't actually true - well, who cares. That seems to be the overall state of American science reporting in a nutshell.
In the original Canadian study, researchers used ultrasound to image the level of arterial plaque in patients who smoke. (Smoking is a well-known cause of arterial plaque build-up.) They then asked those people to report how many eggs they ate. And then they correlated the numbers: smokers who ate more eggs had more arterial plaque build-up.
A child could poke holes in this study's assertion. How do we know the patients were reporting the true number of eggs? Were they talking about plain hardboiled eggs, or Egg McMuffins? And who's to say if egg eating actually correlates better with fast food consumption than it does anything else.
CNN, you should be ashamed of yourself.