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Ann Epidemiol. 1996 Jan;6(1):41-6.

Food and nutrient intake and risk of cataract.

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Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Università di Milano, Italy.


The relationship between cataract extraction and diet was considered in a case-control study conducted in northern Italy. A total of 207 patients who had cataract extraction and 706 control subjects in a hospital for acute, nonneoplastic, nonoculistic, nondigestive tract diseases were interviewed during their hospital stay. Odds ratios (ORs) and their 95% confidence intervals (CIs), according to the intake of alcohol, coffee, tea, and cola, and frequency of intake of 34 food items and 8 micronutrients were derived from multiple logistic regression equations, including terms for age, sex, education, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes, and total calorie intake. Alcohol, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea, and cola intakes were not associated with cataract extraction. Among food items, reduced ORs for cataract extraction (highest tertile of intake compared to the lowest), with a significant inverse trend in risk, were found for intake of meat (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.9), cheese (OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.5 to 1.0), cruciferae (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.8), spinach (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.9), tomatoes (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.8), peppers (OR 0.7, 95% CI 0.4 to 1.1), citrus fruit (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.2 to 1.3), and melon (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.4 to 0.8). A significant increase in risk was found for the highest intake of butter (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.2 to 6.4), total fat (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2 to 2.8), and salt (OR 2.4, 95% CI 1.4 to 4.0) compared to the lowest, and for consumption of oil other than olive oil (OR 1.6, 95% CI 1.1 to 2.2). Among micronutrients, lower ORs for cataract extraction (highest quintile of intake compared to the lowest) were found for intake of calcium (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3 to 0.8), folic acid (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2 to 0.7), and vitamin E (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3 to 1.0), while estimated intakes of methionine, retinol, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, and D were not associated. Thus, this study indicates that diet plays a considerable role in the risk of cataract extraction in this Italian population, with a protective action played by some vegetables, fruit, calcium, folic acid,and vitamin E, and an increased risk associated with elevated salt and fat intake.

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