Alcohol Linked to Small Increase in Cataract Risk

Among women, each daily drink associated with 7 percent increase in cataract extraction risk

FRIDAY, April 27 (HealthDay News) -- Daily consumption of just one alcoholic drink may be associated with a moderate increase in the risk of future cataract extraction, researchers report in the April issue of the journal Ophthalmology.

Birgitta Ejdervik Lindblad, M.D., of Sundsvall Hospital in Sundsvall, Sweden, and colleagues prospectively followed 34,713 women, aged 49 to 83, to assess the impact of alcohol and smoking on future risk of cataract extraction. Over seven years of follow-up, 3,587 cataract extractions were recorded in the study group.

The age-related relative risk of cataract extraction for current drinkers was 1.10 relative to those who never drank, and 1.15 for past drinkers; the relative risk for both groups was 1.11 after also adjusting for such factors as education, smoking, diabetes and body mass index. Smoking had no effect on the risk of cataract, but the level of alcohol intake did, with each 13 grams of alcohol per day associated with a 7 percent increase in risk. The mean age of cataract extraction among non-smoking women who used alcohol was 75, compared with 77.6 for women who did not drink.

"Our data suggest that, among women, daily consumption of one or more alcoholic drinks may increase the risk of cataract extraction," the authors conclude.

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