BACKGROUND: There is little information about the associations of intakes of cholesterol and eggs, a major source of dietary cholesterol, with the risk of cognitive decline in general populations or in carriers of apolipoprotein E ɛ4 (APO-E4), a major risk factor for dementia.
OBJECTIVE: We investigated the associations of cholesterol and egg intakes with incident dementia, Alzheimer disease (AD), and cognitive performance in middle-aged and older men from Eastern Finland.
DESIGN: A total of 2497 dementia-free men, aged 42-60 y in 1984-1989 at the baseline examinations of the prospective, population-based Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, were included in the study. Information on the apolipoprotein E (Apo-E) phenotype was available for 1259 men. Data on cognitive performance tests at the 4-y re-examinations were available for 480 men. Dietary intakes were assessed with the use of 4-d food records at baseline. Dementia and AD diagnoses were based on Finnish health registers. Cox regression and ANCOVA were used for the analyses.
RESULTS: During the 21.9-y follow-up, 337 men were diagnosed with dementia, and 266 men were diagnosed with AD. Neither cholesterol nor egg intake was associated with a higher risk of incident dementia or AD. For example, when evaluated continuously, each intake of 100 mg cholesterol/d was associated with a multivariable-adjusted HR of 0.90 (95% CI: 0.79, 1.02) for incident dementia, and each additional 0.5 egg (27 g)/d was associated with an HR of 0.89 (95% CI: 0.78, 1.01). However, egg intake was associated with better performance on neuropsychological tests of the frontal lobe and executive functioning, the Trail Making Test, and the Verbal Fluency Test. The Apo-E4 phenotype did not modify the associations of cholesterol or egg intake (P-interactions > 0.11).
CONCLUSIONS: Neither cholesterol nor egg intake is associated with an increased risk of incident dementia or AD in Eastern Finnish men. Instead, moderate egg intake may have a beneficial association with certain areas of cognitive performance.