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Lead may be a risk factor for cataracts

Posted - Dec. 7, 2004 at 3:20 p.m.



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BOSTON, Dec 07, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Accumulated lead exposure commonly experienced by U.S. adults may be an important, but unrecognized, risk factor for cataracts.

While lead exposure has decreased recently, lead exposure has not been totally eliminated and most adults have substantial levels of lead in their body. Experts say more than 80 percent of homes built before 1980 are contaminated by lead-based paint and/or leaded water pipes.

Debra Schaumberg of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, found men with the highest levels of lead in their tibia had a 2.7 times increased likelihood for cataracts compared with men with the lowest lead exposure.

The study suggests cumulative lead exposure is a risk factor for cataracts, which accounts for more than 40 percent of all cases of blindness worldwide.

The study appears in the Wednesday issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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