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People’s Pharmacy: Studies show benefits of eggs

Joe And Teresa Graedon

Q. I gave up eating eggs years ago due to high cholesterol. I have only been eating egg substitutes. I recently heard that eating eggs doesn’t really raise cholesterol. If this is true, I would love to go back to eating real eggs again.

A. For decades, dietary dogma has kept many people from eating eggs. Because egg yolks are rich in cholesterol, some scientists assumed that eating whole eggs would raise blood cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease. This assumption was accepted without evidence.

When investigators looked at the data, they found that eating up to one egg daily had little impact on stroke or heart-disease risk (Journal of the American Medical Association, Apr. 21, 1999). There is even an experiment showing that egg consumption is linked to higher levels of good HDL cholesterol and markers of improved retinal health in the eye (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2009).

People vary in their response to eggs, so it is important to monitor blood lipid levels. Those with diabetes should exercise particular caution, since studies suggest eggs do raise their risk for heart disease.

Q. I was bothered with severe leg cramps for several months. I tried home remedies, such as soap in my bed, tonic water and bananas, but they didn’t help.

At last I found out I was severely anemic, with a hemoglobin of 5. You may want to warn readers that this is a possibility if they also are tired and short of breath as I was. I was given two units of blood as soon as I was diagnosed and am now on iron supplements as well as eating more iron-rich foods. I have had no leg cramps at all since starting treatment.

A. Thank you for the note of caution. There is research linking iron deficiency to restless legs syndrome (Presse Medicale online, March 22, 2010) and to pica (Journal of Medical Case Reports, March 12, 2010). Pica is a condition in which people feel compelled to eat nonfood items, such as laundry starch or ice.

We could not find any studies showing that taking iron supplements could alleviate nighttime leg cramps. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

Q. I have been plagued with a skin condition called rosacea for years. I have tried topical metronidazole along with oral antibiotics. They help somewhat, but not all the time. Is there anything else that might work to control the redness and bumps?

A. Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition with flushing, redness and dilated blood vessels on the face. Bumps and pimples may add to the distress.

There are no cures, but there are other treatments. Ask your doctor about the prescription drug Finacea. It is a topical gel containing azelaic acid. One study indicates that it is more effective than metronidazole (Archives of Dermatology, November 2003).

There are some nonstandard treatments worth discussing with your doctor. One report from Italy suggested that dietary supplements containing silymarin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) may ease redness (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008).

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert. Questions can be sent to them via their Web site: or in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019.
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