Every year, tens of thousands of Brits are diagnosed with prostate or ovarian cancer, thousands of which do not survive.
Regular egg consumption has been linked to these hormone-sensitive cancers in two ways1,3. Eggs are a rich source of cholesterol, which is involved in the synthesis of sex hormones such as testosterone and oestrogens that promote cell growth1,4. High levels of these can contribute to cancerous growths in hormone-sensitive tissues such as ovary and or prostate.
Eggs also contain a substance called choline – in fact, they are the richest dietary source of it. High choline intakes are directly linked to a serious risk of lethal prostate cancer and it is highly concentrated in prostate cancer cells3.
Both cholesterol and choline are also essential components of cell membranes and a plentiful supply might help cancerous cells to grow4.
Don’t fear, it’s not all doom and gloom! You can easily adapt most of your favourite recipes traditionally made with eggs to be egg-free and delicious, such as scrambled eggs, omelettes and meringues.
There are also many foods that have been shown to be able to help prevent certain cancers. Regular consumption of fruit, vegetables, soya foods and pumpkin seeds can lower your risk of prostate cancer. A diet rich in fruit, vegetables (particularly dark green leafy ones – kale, broccoli, cabbage, watercress, Brussels sprouts) and wholegrains can help prevent ovarian cancer.
Viva! Health are offering a FREE download of their guide on eggs and your health: vivahealth.org.uk/eggs to help people make informed choices when it comes to their diet.
Further research into a plant-based diet and its impact on health can be found here.
1 Pirozzo S, Purdie D, Kuiper-Linley M, Webb P, Harvey P, Green A and Bain C. 2002. Ovarian cancer, cholesterol, and eggs: a case-control analysis. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. 11 (10 Pt 1) 1112-1114.
2 Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL and Chan JM. 2011. Egg, red meat, and poultry intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the prostate specific antigen-era: incidence and survival. Cancer Prevention Research. 4 (12) 2110-2121.
3 Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Zeisel SH, Willett WC and Chan JM. 2012. Choline intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer: incidence and survival. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 96 (4) 855-863.
4 Keum N, Lee DH, Marchand N, Oh H, Liu H, Aune D, Greenwood DC and Giovannucci EL. 2015. Egg intake and cancers of the breast, ovary and prostate: a dose-response meta-analysis of prospective observational studies. British Journal of Nutrition. 21: 1-9.
Find out more about eggs in our Cracked guide: Everything you need to know about eggs – how they’re produced, the chickens who lay them and how eggs affect your health.
Or go to our Eggs and Your Health page.
And! Don’t forget to check out the fabulous Egg Replacer Chart – a must-have for every cook.