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Vitamin E, Lutein May Fight Cataracts
Date:1/25/2008

A randomized trial is needed to confirm the findings, experts say

FRIDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Antioxidants such as vitamin E and lutein could lower a woman's risk of sight-robbing cataracts, new research suggests.

The new observational study included more than 35,000 women aged 45 and older.

"The data suggests that those people who consumed diets higher in lutein/zeaxanthin or total vitamin E may have a lower risks of cataracts," said lead author William G. Christen, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Participants who consumed the largest amounts of lutein/zeaxanthin -- found in many vegetables -- had an 18 percent lower risk of developing cataracts than the group who consumed the least. The group who consumed the most vitamin E from both food and supplements had a 14 percent lower risk.

The study, published in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, found that vitamin E obtained from food alone was not enough to reduce the risk significantly.

The lutein/zeaxanthin combination is most abundantly found in spinach, broccoli, kale, eggs, corn, and peas, Christen explained. He added, however, that it's too soon to be making specific food recommendations. Supplement manufacturers have recently added lutein to multivitamins, but a clinical trial is needed to determine a definite benefit from the compound, Christen explained.

Cataracts, a clouding of the eye's lens, afflicts many elderly adults. In fact, by age 80, more than half the population will have developed cataracts, according to the U.S. National Eye Institute (NEI). Cataracts can reduce the sharpness of vision or add a brownish tint to vision. According to the institute, smoking, alcohol use, diabetes and prolonged exposure to sunlight increase the risk of cataracts.

The new findings are based on a follow-up of female health professionals who parti
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