Serum carotenoids and tocopherols and incidence of age-related nuclear cataract.

PubMed ID: 9989692

Author(s): Lyle BJ, Mares-Perlman JA, Klein BE, Klein R, Palta M, Bowen PE, Greger JL. Serum carotenoids and tocopherols and incidence of age-related nuclear cataract. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999 Feb;69(2):272-7.

Journal: The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 69, Issue 2, Feb 1999

BACKGROUND It is not known whether the protective effects of antioxidants on cataract observed in experimental animals are relevant to age-related opacities in humans.

OBJECTIVE The relations of serum carotenoids and tocopherols to the incidence of age-related nuclear cataract were investigated in a random sample of 400 adults, 50-86 y of age, in the Beaver Dam Eye Study.

DESIGN Nuclear opacity was assessed by using lens photographs taken at baseline (in 1988-1990) and follow-up (in 1993-1995). Nonfasting concentrations of individual carotenoids and alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, were determined from serum obtained at baseline. A total of 252 persons were eligible for incident cataract, of whom 57 developed nuclear cataract in at least one eye. Results were adjusted for age, smoking, serum cholesterol, heavy drinking, adiposity, and, in the tocopherol models, dietary linoleic acid intake.

RESULTS Only serum tocopherol (the sum of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, in micromol/mmol cholesterol) was associated with cataract. For total serum tocopherol, persons in tertile 3 had a lower risk of cataract than persons in tertile 1 [odds ratio (OR): 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2, 0.9; P = 0.03 for linear trend]. Although serum carotenoids were not significantly associated with nuclear cataract, marginal inverse associations with lutein (OR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.1, 1.2; P = 0.13 for linear trend) and cryptoxanthin (OR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.1, 1.3; P = 0.11 for linear trend) were suggested in people < or = 65 y of age.

CONCLUSIONS Findings were compatible with the possibility that nuclear cataract may be linked inversely to vitamin E status, but neither strongly supported nor negated the hypothesized inverse association of nuclear cataract with serum carotenoids.