Prospective study of cataract extraction and risk of coronary heart disease in women

Frank B. Hu, Susan E. Hankinson, Meir J. Stampfer, Joann E. Manson, Graham A. Colditz, Frank E. Speizer, Charles H. Hennekens, Walter C. Willett

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Oxidative damage to proteins in the human lens is believed to be important in the etiology of age-related cataract. Because free radical-mediated oxidative damage to lipoproteins may accelerate atherosclerosis, the authors hypothesized that the development of cataract might be a marker for such damage and therefore might be associated with future risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The authors followed 60,657 women aged 45-63 years and without known coronary disease, stroke, or cancer in 1984. During 10 years of follow-up (674,283 person-years), the authors documented 887 incident cases of CHD and 2,322 deaths. After adjustment for age, smoking, and other coronary risk factors, cataract extraction was significantly associated with higher risk of CHD (relative risk (RR) = 1.88, 95% confidence interval (Cl): 1.41, 2.50) for total CHD, 2.44 (95% Cl: 1.54, 3.89) for fatal CHD, and 1.63 (95% Cl: 1.14, 2.34) for nonfatal myocardial infarction). The positive association between cataract extraction and total CHD was stronger among women with a history of diabetes (RR = 2.80, 95% Cl: 1.77, 4.42) than among those without reported diabetes (RR = 1.51, 95 percent Cl: 1.04, 2.18). In multivariate analyses, cataract extraction was associated with significantly increased overall mortality (RR = 1.37, 95 percent Cl: 1.13, 1.66), which was entirely explained by the increased mortality from cardiovascular disease (RR = 1.84, 95% Cl: 1.29, 2.64). These findings are compatible with current hypotheses relating oxidative damage and tissue aging to the development of cataract and CHD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-881
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2001


  • Antioxidants
  • Cataract
  • Coronary disease
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Prospective studies
  • Women

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    Hu, F. B., Hankinson, S. E., Stampfer, M. J., Manson, J. E., Colditz, G. A., Speizer, F. E., Hennekens, C. H., & Willett, W. C. (2001). Prospective study of cataract extraction and risk of coronary heart disease in women. American journal of epidemiology, 153(9), 875-881.