February 14/The International Herald Tribune-- The antioxidants vitamin E and lutein, from both food and supplements, may reduce women's risk for cataracts, researchers report.

A study in the January issue of The Archives of Ophthalmology enrolled more than 35,000 women who were followed for an average of 10 years.

After statistically adjusting for smoking, alcohol use, body mass index and other variables, the researchers found that the more vitamin E and lutein the women used, the less likely they were to have cataracts. Compared with the one-fifth of women who consumed the least antioxidants, the one-fifth who consumed the most reduced their risk for cataracts by 14% with vitamin E and 18%t with lutein.

Vegetable oils, nuts, leafy green vegetables and whole grains are sources of vitamin E, and lutein is found in various fruits, corn, kale, spinach and other vegetables.

William Christen, the lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, said this study was observational only and that "there is no solid randomized trial for any specific nutrient to prevent eye disease."

Still, Christen said, the findings suggest that there is a benefit to antioxidants and that people should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. "This is advice you may have heard before," he said. The research was supported in part by a grant from DSM Nutritional Products.

From the February 18, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash