Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Diet May Prevent Cataracts

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Diet May Prevent Cataracts

Article excerpt

Diet May Prevent Cataracts

Worldwide, 50 million people suffer from clouded vision due to cataracts. In the United States alone, about 1.4 million people - mostly the elderly - underwent cataract surgery during the 1990 fiscal year. Medicare paid for 1.2 million of those surgeries at a staggering cost of nearly $3.2 billion. The cost in quality of life is even greater.

Mounting evidence suggests that many of these operations may be delayed or prevented if people consumed more fruits and vegetables and more of the antioxidant vitamins.

Researchers with The Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts and the Brigham and Women's Hospital eye clinic recently took the most comprehensive look at the relationship between cataracts and diet in 112 people between the ages of 40 and 70. Seventy-seven of the participants had at least one cataract; 35 had clear lenses.

Both groups filled out a lengthy questionaire detailing how often they consumed various foods; they provided a history of their supplement use as well as blood samples. Although small in scale as epidemiology studies go, when the data were put through statistical analyses, significant differences appeared:

"Study subjects who had cataracts didn't eat as many fruits and vegetables," says Paul Jacques with the ARS/Tufts center's epidemiology program. Those who consumed less than 1.5 servings of fruit or fruit juice per day or less than two servings of vegetables or vegetable juice were three and a half times more likely to have cataracts. …

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