Lutein May Prevent Cataracts


Lutein May Prevent Cataracts

It is generally agreed that cataract formation involves oxidation of lens tissue and that dietary antioxidants may prevent or delay this oxidation.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School now report that the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may be particularly effective in preventing cataracts. Their studies involved almost 80,000 females nurses and over 35,000 male health professionals who were enrolled in 1980 and 1986 respectively. The female study group completed diet questionnaires in 1980 and 1984 and were then followed up until 1992, at which time 1471 cataract extractions had been performed. The male group completed diet questionnaires in 1986 and were followed up until 1994, at which time 840 cataract extractions had been performed.

The researchers found that nurses with a high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin had a 22 per cent lower risk of cataract extraction than did women with the lowest intake. Among the men, the 20 per cent with the highest intake had a 19 per cent lower risk when compared with the 20 per cent with the lowest intake. The researchers found a significant protective effect of spinach, kale and broccoli, but found no significant effects of other carotenoids and could not confirm a previously reported protective effect of vitamin A. They conclude that lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of cataract formation and recommend daily consumption of fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 1999

Canadian Health Reform Products Ltd.


By Hans R. Larsen

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