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Women May Reduce Cataract Risk with Healthy Diet, Study Says

Women May Reduce Cataract Risk with Healthy Diet, Study Says

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Women who follow a healthy diet may reduce their risk of developing cataracts, according to a joint study conducted by researchers from several universities and research centers. The results were published in the June issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

The study of more than 1,800 women aged 50 to 79 years from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Oregon indicates a 37 percent reduction in cataracts may be achieved with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins from foods such as beans, fish, and eggs, and low in salt and fat.

Cataracts affect the vision of nearly half of Americans by the time they reach 80, clouding their natural lenses and requiring lens replacement surgery that accounts for about 60 percent of Medicare vision-related expenditures, according to the study.

Researchers were specifically looking for a link between lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and the likelihood of cataracts. They found that high intakes of those two substances may reduce cataracts in women by 32 percent. They also found a reduced likelihood among subjects with a lesser lutein/zeaxanthin intake, but a generally healthy diet.

According to the researchers, in addition to following current generally accepted dietary guidelines, the women who did not develop cataracts were most often those who maintained a healthy body weight, exercised regularly, and did not smoke.

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