Monday, July 29, 2013

Eggs and Your Health

Since I touched on Cage Layer Osteoporosis in my last blog entry – that painful condition that laying hens in factory farms suffer greatly from, due to the excessive number of eggs they are forced to lay – I thought I would give you more reasons to give up eggs this week: Eggs are horrible for your health. 

I’ve heard it said (although I didn’t look it up) that eggs have more cholesterol in them than anything else humans eat.  I expect this could be true, perhaps with the exception of liver.  Eggs are also full of fat, and everyone has read what a fatty diet does for your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and death.  But where’s the data?  Here are some specifics for you to chew on, next time you are considering making eggs for breakfast.  Scrambled tofu is delicious!

·      The Physician’s Health Study found that there was a 23% increase in the risk of death in people who ate just one egg a day.[1] 
·      Just 3-4 eggs a week has been linked with an increase in heart disease[2] – many people can eat that in just one omelet! 
·      In a large meta-analysis of 14 studies, researchers found that people who ate the most eggs had a 19% increased risk for developing heart disease compared with those who ate the fewest eggs[3].
·      In the same meta-analysis of 14 studies, researchers also found that those who ate the most eggs had a 68% increased risk for developing diabetes compared with those who ate the fewest eggs; if they already had diabetes, their risk of developing heart disease jumped by 83%[4].
·      Another study found that diabetic patients had a 5-fold greater risk of cardiovascular death by eating 1 egg a day or more.[5] 

So the data are out: eggs are horrible for your health, and the health of your loved ones.  They are not the perfect protein, nor are they a great source of anything you can’t get from a healthier source.  Consider using tofu in place of scrambled eggs, baking with EnerG Egg Replacer or another natural substitute like bananas or applesauce, or just skipping them altogether.  I have regularly made boxed baking mixes (my husband loves Trader Joe’s boxed cornbread mix) by leaving out both the eggs and the oil, and adding an extra ¼ cup of water, and they generally turn out wonderfully!  Yes, you can live without eggs – and your health and the hens will be much better off for it.  J


[1] Djousse L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians' Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr 2008;87:964-969.
[2] Weggemans RM, Zock PL, Katan MB. Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:885-891.
[3] Li Y, Zhou C, Zhou S, LiL.  Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and eiabetes:  A meta-analysis.  Atherosclerosis.  Published ahead of print April 17, 2013.
[4] Li Y, Zhou C, Zhou S, LiL.  Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular diseases and eiabetes:  A meta-analysis.  Atherosclerosis.  Published ahead of print April 17, 2013.
[5] Trichopoulou A, Psaltopoulou T, Orfanos P, et al. Diet and physical activity in relation to overall mortality amongst adult diabetics in a general population cohort. J Intern Med 2006;259:583-591.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Cage Layer Osteoporosis - Another Reason to Give Up Eggs ... For Good

I have started posting a few excerpts from my upcoming book here on the Vegan Next Door’s blog, so you can get a taste of what will be in Vegetarian to Vegan.  As I mentioned in the last post, I am digging in my heels with publishers who are requesting I take all or most of this “disturbing” information about factory farms out of my manuscript.  I keep saying that if I take it out, how will anyone be convinced to give up dairy and eggs? 

So, here is a short excerpt about a specific type of osteoporosis that happens to egg-laying hens (but not chickens raised for meat). I’ll publish a few more of these excerpts in the coming weeks.

Cage Layer Osteoporosis
Broiler chickens (raised for their meat) have been genetically bred to get so big that many of these chickens have broken bones in their feet and legs because they are not strong enough to carry their weight.  Interestingly, laying hens also have problems with their bones breaking, but for a much different reason.

It requires a lot of calcium to produce eggs, and laying hens are bred to make far more eggs than they would in a natural environment.  In fact, factory farm hens are genetically and physically manipulated in many ways to lay eggs all year round instead of seasonally, which is normal for them.  This excessively high level of egg production requires that calcium that would normally go to the hens’ bones instead get used for egg production. 

The combination of this high demand for calcium for egg production and the fact that the hens get no exercise leads to a painful condition known as cage layer osteoporosis.  Like osteoporosis in humans, cage layer osteoporosis is a chronically painful disease that leads to brittle bones in chickens.  These brittle bones are highly susceptible to breaking.[1]  One report found that keel bone fractures were nearly five times more common in battery cage hens than hens from other housing systems.[2]

[1] Scientific Veterinary Committee of the European Commission (1996). Report on the Welfare of Layer Hens.
[2] Sherwin, C.M., Richards, G.J and Nicol, C.J. 2010. Comparison of the welfare of layer hens in 4 housing systems in the UK. British Poultry Science, 51(4): 488-499.