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Carotenoids, Vitamin E May Lower Cataract Risk in Women

Highest intake of lutein/zeaxanthin reduced risk of cataracts by 18 percent

THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- A high dietary intake of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamin E from food and supplements, may lower the risk of cataracts in women, researchers report in the January issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

William G. Christen and colleagues at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston analyzed data from 35,551 female health professionals aged 45 and older who completed detailed dietary intake surveys, in order to investigate the link between carotenoid and vitamin C and E intake and the risk of cataracts. The primary outcome measure was self-reported cataracts, which were then confirmed by medical record review.

A total of 2,031 new cataracts developed during a mean 10 years of follow-up. Comparing women in the highest to lowest quintiles of intake, lutein/zeaxanthin reduced the risk of cataracts (relative risk 0.82), as did vitamin E intake from food and supplements (RR, 0.86). Vitamin C and beta carotene intake did not show a statistically significant relationship to risk of cataracts.

"In conclusion, these prospective data from a large cohort of female health professionals indicate that higher intakes of lutein/zeaxanthin and vitamin E are associated with decreased risk of cataract," the authors conclude.

This study was cofunded by the National Institutes of Health and DSM Nutritional Products, Inc. Several authors have received research funding and honoraria from pharmaceutical companies.

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