Fruit May Help Prevent Macular Degeneration
Problem More Rampant Among Girls With Chronic Headaches
June 14, 2004 -- Eating at least three servings of fruit a day
may help prevent the most common cause of blindness in older people.
A new study shows that people who ate three or more servings
per day of fruits had a 36% lower risk of age-related macular degeneration
(ARM) compared those who ate less than one-and-a-half servings per day. ARM is
the leading cause of decreased vision in people over 65. It is a group of
conditions that results in deterioration and loss of central vision.
There are no effective treatments for age-related macular
degeneration, which makes prevention of the eye disease important.
Fruits Fight Macular Degeneration
Previous studies have suggested that taking antioxidant
supplements, such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and zinc, may help
protect against and slow the progression of macular degeneration.
In this study, researchers looked at the effect of specific
antioxidant vitamins and carotenoids (the antioxidant compounds that pigment
many fruits and vegetables) as well as overall fruit and vegetable consumption
on the development of the disease in more than 118,000 men and women over 50
The participants were from the Nurses' Health Study and Health
Professionals Follow-up Study. They completed food consumption questionnaires
on a regular basis and were followed for up to 18 years. The results appear in
The Archives of Ophthalmology.
During the follow-up period, researchers identified 464 new
cases of early stages of age-related macular degeneration and 316 cases of more
The study showed that people who ate three or more servings per
day of fruit had a 36% lower risk of ARM compared with those who ate less than
half that amount.
Vegetable consumption did not appear to be strongly related to
macular degeneration risks, although carrots appeared to have a somewhat
protective effect against some forms of ARM.
The participants also reported their vitamin and supplement
use, and the study showed that none of the antioxidant vitamins or carotenoids
either from food only or from food and supplements significantly reduced
macular degeneration risks.