Skooter reporting 05/16/12
There are 21 million Americans suffer from at least one cataract (clouding of the lens in the eye), according to The National Eye Institute. By the year 2020 this occurrence will rise to 30 million. Other statistics concerning cataracts are similarly high. According to Dr. Victor Marchione, cataract surgery is the most frequently performed optional operation in the United Kingdom, where annual rates have risen 10-fold since 1968.
Several factors are to be blamed for the increase in numbers based on a recent research: smoking and sunlight exposure are believed to enhance a person's risk of acquiring cataracts. A diet short of healing foods high in antioxidants may also be a factor in boosting cataract risk.
To have a better understanding the link between diet and eye health, researchers at the University of Oxford, UK, weighed up the prevalence of cataracts in individuals consuming a wide range of diets.
Data were gathered from the Oxford group of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Oxford) kicked off in 1993. Participants in the study were told to fill up completely a questionnaire requiring information about important natural health choices and behaviors such as smoking, exercise, and dietary intake.
The participants were then sorted out based on food intake patterns: meat eaters; fish eaters (eating fish, but not meat); vegetarians (dairy products and/or eggs, but not meat or fish); or vegans (no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products). Those individuals who had diabetes which is a common cause of cataracts were disqualified from the study. The occurrence of cataract diagnosis in 27,670 subjects was then monitored for over a decade.
The outcome of the investigation was out of the 27,670 participants, 1,484 were diagnosed with at least one cataract during the study period. In contrast with individuals who remained cataract-free (controls), those individuals with cataracts had a number of things in common. They were presumably to have smoked at some time in their lives; but a higher percentage of controls were current smokers. As to alcohol usage was lower in those with cataracts than controls, and those with cataracts were prone to be overweight than controls.
Sure enough, there was a strong connection between dietary pattern and cataract risk. Compared with individuals eating the most meat, those consuming less meat were 15% less likely to develop cataracts. Fish eaters, vegetarians, and vegans were 21%, 30%, and 40% less likely, respectively.
The research team comes to the conclusion that vegetarians and vegans are at lower risk of cataract development than meat eaters.
If you've been considering improving your nutrition health by becoming vegetarian convert, Dr. Victor Marchione offers one more good reason to give it a try -- the health of your eyes!