Relations of serum ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol to diabetic retinopathy in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Julie Mares // Kleins Lab // Publications // Aug 01 2003

PubMed ID: 12882944

Author(s): Millen AE, Gruber M, Klein R, Klein BE, Palta M, Mares JA. Relations of serum ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol to diabetic retinopathy in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Aug 1;158(3):225-33. PMID 12882944

Journal: American Journal Of Epidemiology, Volume 158, Issue 3, Aug 2003

The protective relation of ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol to the development of diabetic retinopathy has not been thoroughly evaluated in epidemiologic studies. The association of prevalent diabetic retinopathy with serum ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol was studied among participants with type 2 diabetes (>or=40 years) (n = 998) in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994); 20% of the sample (n = 199) had prevalent retinopathy. The overall odds ratio for retinopathy among participants in quartile 4 compared with quartile 1 for serum ascorbic acid was 1.3 (95% confidence interval: 0.8, 2.3), with a p for trend = 0.60 after adjustment for the confounders of smoking, race, waist/hip ratio, hypertension, and duration of diabetes. The overall odds ratio for retinopathy among participants in quartile 4 compared with quartile 1 for serum alpha-tocopherol was 2.7 (95% confidence interval: 1.6, 4.6), with a p for trend = 0.14 after adjustment for confounders. After removal of supplement users of vitamin C (n = 307) or vitamin E (n = 298), the odds ratio changed direction or was attenuated: adjusted odds ratios for retinopathy among participants in quartile 4 compared with quartile 1 for serum ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol = 0.7 (95% confidence interval: 0.3, 1.4) and 1.6 (95% confidence interval: 0.9, 2.9), respectively. In summary, no significant associations were observed between serum levels of major dietary antioxidants and retinopathy. Recent use of supplements for treatment of complications of diabetes may explain the direct associations.