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J Clin Epidemiol. 1999 Dec;52(12):1207-11.

Serum ascorbic acid and other correlates of self-reported cataract among older Americans.

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General Internal Medicine Section, Medical Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, and University of California 94121, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the correlates of self-reported cataract among older Americans, and specifically, to determine whether serum ascorbic acid levels are associated with a decreased prevalence of cataract. A national probability survey of Americans, the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES II), was conducted between 1976 and 1980. A total of 4001 participants were included between the ages of 60 and 74 years with data on serum ascorbic acid level and other variables of interest. A total of 252 women (12%) and 164 men (9%) reported a history of cataract. Serum ascorbic acid level was inversely associated with prevalence of cataract in multiple logistic regression analyses; each 1 mg/dl increase was independently associated with a 26% decrease in cataract (P = 0.03). Other independent correlates of cataract included increasing age, female sex, smoking, and diabetes mellitus (all P<0.01). We identified four correlates of cataract among older Americans: serum ascorbic acid level, increasing age, smoking, and diabetes mellitus. Ascorbic acid, a water-soluble antioxidant found in high concentrations in the lens, may be of importance for the prevention of cataract among older Americans.

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