Higher Blood Antioxidant Levels With Lower Cataract Risk

Meta-analysis associates higher blood antioxidant levels with lower cataract risk

Meta-analysis associates higher blood antioxidant levels with lower cataract risk

Tuesday, July 16, 2013. The results of a meta-analysis published online on July 10, 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition provide more evidence for a protective role for antioxidants against age-related cataract.

Researchers at Guangzhou Medical University and Jinan University in Guangzhou, China selected 13 studies that included a total of 18,999 participants for their analysis. The included studies evaluated the risk of cataract in association with blood levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin.

When comparing lowest to highest blood antioxidant levels, having a high intake of vitamin E was associated with a 25% lower risk, alpha-carotene with a 28% lower risk, lutein with a 25% reduction and zeaxanthin with a 30% decrease in the risk of cataract. Among Asian populations, having a high vitamin A and vitamin C level were associated with a 31% and 33% risk reduction, however, the protective effect associated with these two vitamins was not observed among Westerners.

In their discussion, authors Yu-Hong Cui and associates remark that the results of studies evaluating the association between cataract and antioxidant intake have been inconsistent, possibly due to the imprecise nature of self-reporting, and they note that blood levels of antioxidants may be a better marker of antioxidant status than dietary intake. Interventional studies involving the administration of various antioxidants may also provide inconsistent results due to an influence of lifestyle, environmental factors and individual variances in absorption on blood levels; the likeliness of long periods of time for protective effects to manifest, and other factors.

"Our results provide additional evidence in support of a significant inverse association between blood levels of certain antioxidants and risk of age-related cataract, suggesting the elevation of blood levels of related antioxidants by appropriate methods might bring a benefit in age-related cataract prevention, especially for people with low basic levels of blood antioxidants," the authors conclude. "Large-scale, long-term randomized controlled trials should be carried out in different populations to investigate the efficacy of antioxidant intakes on cataract prevention."

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SOD helps prevent blindness in premature infants

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In an article published online on June 15, 2012 in the journal Neonatology, researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital report a protective effect for the administration of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant enzyme, against retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the second leading cause of childhood blindness in the United States. Retinopathy of prematurity, which is characterized by abnormal blood vessel development in the eyes' retina, occurs in approximately half of infants born at 28 weeks gestation or earlier. The risk of the condition rises with decreasing gestational age.

Richard Parad, MD and his associates analyzed data from a previous trial of 302 preterm infants who were given recombinant copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (rhSOD) or a placebo to help prevent a chronic lung condition known as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD). While there was no significant difference between the two groups in the incidence of ROP, when a subset of infants born earlier than 26 weeks gestation were analyzed, a 22 percent reduction in ROP risk in association with rhSOD supplementation was observed. For those born prior to 25 weeks gestation, an even greater reduction of 53 percent occurred.

"Even though strides have been made in developing interventions to stop ROP from progressing to blindness, there are currently no therapies available for ROP prevention," noted Dr Parad, who is affiliated with Brigham and Women's Hospital's Department of Newborn Medicine. "There is a large need for the preventive approach that rhSOD could potentially provide."

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