'Vegetarian diet cuts cataracts risk'
Sat, 09 Apr 2011 09:44:49 GMT
People who follow vegetarian diet may experience a lower risk of developing cataracts than those who usually eat more meat and fewer vegetables.
A team of researchers at University of Oxford, UK, asked more than 27,600 people older than 40 to fill out dietary surveys between 1993 and 1999, then followed the participants' medical records between 2008 and 2009 to see if they developed cataracts.
The findings published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that about three in 50 meat eaters got cataracts during the follow up period while the rate was two in 50 among vegans and vegetarians.
The analysis of the results suggested that the risk of developing cataracts were about 30 to 40 percent lower in vegans and vegetarians in comparison to the heaviest meat eaters.
The researchers say that the highest risk of cataract was among the biggest meat eaters, consuming over 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of meat daily. The risk was a bit lower in moderate meat-eaters.
The risk of fish-eaters was 15 percent lower than heavy meat eaters. Vegetarians had a 30 percent lower and vegans experience 40 percent lower risk than the people in the heavy meat consuming group.
However, the study has just showed a relation between meat eating and cataract and does not prove that meat promotes the eye condition.
Previous findings have found an association between certain nutrients in plant foods to a lowered risk of cataracts. Therefore, the eating a lot of vegetables might be protective against cataracts, said, Naomi Allen, study coauthor.
A vegetarian diet may also simply be a sign of other healthy behaviors that contribute to the lowered risk, she added.
Moreover, the researchers noted that their findings do not mean that people should necessarily become vegetarians to avoid getting cataracts. They consider that future studies may definitely show the reason behind their findings.
A cataract is a clouding that develops in the natural lens. Most cataracts develop slowly through aging process and do not disturb eyesight early on but with time, the condition will eventually interfere with vision.
Smoking, diabetes, and exposure to bright sunlight are main factors associated with an increased risk for cataracts. Doctors consider keeping eyes from excessive day light as the most protective activity against the vision disturbing condition.