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Can “too many” eggs increase your risk of prostate cancer?

Submitted By: Megan Morris

Edited By: Marcia Bristow MS RDN CSSD CD

How do you know what to believe when it comes to certain foods and your risk for disease? Just like soy is believed to be a risk factor for breast cancer, eggs are considered a possible risk factor for prostate cancer. Being that prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers for men, and eggs are a breakfast staple, this is concerning.

A recent study suggests that eating just five eggs a week may increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.1 Another study suggests that eating only one half of an egg every day could increase the risk as well.2 That’s only about three eggs each week. To make things more confusing, the connection was only found between eggs and more aggressive forms of prostate cancer.1 This evidence implies that men who are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer should not eat eggs. Still other studies have found no relationship between eating eggs and risk of prostate cancer.3 Thus, a safe level of egg consumption is unclear.

How can men determine how many eggs they should eat?

The current recommendations do not limit cholesterol in the diet from animal meat or eggs and so, eggs are no longer shamed at the breakfast buffet.4 Even though the cholesterol in your eggs may not increase blood cholesterol, eggs may still be a risk factor for prostate cancer. Cholesterol and choline, two nutrients found in eggs, may promote the growth of tumors.1 These nutrients are found in high numbers in the prostate, which is why they may be more likely to cause prostate cancer rather than other forms of cancer.5 Before ditching your morning omelet remember that eggs contain protein, vitamins, and minerals, and can be a part of a healthy diet. It’s important to talk to your doctor to determine if you are at risk of prostate cancer and if you should limit your egg intake to less than three eggs each week.

References:

  1. Keum N, Lee DH, Marchand N, Oh H, Liu H, Aune D, Greenwood DC, Giovannucci EL. Egg intake and cancers of the breast, ovary and prostate: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. British Journal of Nutrition. 2015;114:1099-1107.
  2. Wu K, Speigelman D, Hou T, Albanes D, Allen NE, Berndt SI, van den Brandt PA, Giles GG, Giovannucci E, Goldbohm RA, Goodman GG, Goodman PJ, Hakansson N, Inoue M, Key TJ, Kolonel LN, Mannisto S, McCullough ML, Neuhouser ML, Park Y, Platz EA, Schenk JM, Sinha R, Stampfer MJ, Stevens VL, Tsugane S, Visvanathan K, Wilkens LR, Wolk A, Ziegler RG, Smith-Warner SA. Associations between unprocessed red and processed meat, poultry, seafood and egg intake and the risk of prostate cancer: a pooled analysis of 15 prospective cohort studies. Accepted article in the International Journal of Cancer. 2015.
  3. Xie B, He H. No association between egg intake and prostate cancer risk: A meta-analysis. Asian Pacific J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(9):4677-4681.
  4. United States Department of Agriculture. Scientific report of the 2015 dietary guidelines advisory committee. United States Department of Agriculture. Published February 2015. Accessed February 14, 2015. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf
  5. Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Chan JM. Egg, red meat, and poultry intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the prostate-specific antigen-era: Incidence and survival. Cancer Prev Res. 2011;4:2110-2121.
  6. Picture Source: Unsplash.com

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