A British study finds that vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk for cataracts than meat eaters. Compared with the heaviest meat eaters in the study, vegetarians had a 30 to 40 percent lower cataract risk.
The researchers followed 27,600 non-diabetics age 40 and older for a period as long as 15 years. At the end of the study, about three in 50 meat eaters had cataracts, versus about two in 50 vegans and vegetarians.
Moderate meat eaters had a slightly lower cataract risk than that of the heaviest meat eaters, who ate more than 3.5 ounces of meat each day. Fish eaters had a 15 percent lower cataract risk than that of the heaviest meat eaters.
The results do not prove that meat consumption promotes cataracts, according to the researchers. Rather, vegetables may have protective nutrients that lower cataract risk, as suggested by other studies. In addition, vegetarians may practice other healthy lifestyle behaviors that can contribute to a lower risk for cataracts.
The study was reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.