Red meat consumption associated with early AMD

March 25, 2009

According to Eye Research Australia researchers at the University of Melbourne, a high intake of fresh and processed red meat is positively associated with early AMD, the leading cause of blindness among older people. Diet has often been postulated to alter the risk of AMD.

According to Eye Research Australia researchers at the University of Melbourne, a high intake of fresh and processed red meat is positively associated with early AMD, the leading cause of blindness among older people. Diet has often been postulated to alter the risk of AMD.

The study, published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, examined 6,734 people with and age range of 58–69 years from 1990–1994. When enrolled in the study participants were asked to complete a 121-item food frequency questionnaire. Eighteen questions related to consumption of red meat, processed red meat and chicken. The researchers also investigated demographics and lifestyle factors including age, sex, smoking status and country of birth. Blood pressure, weight and height were also measured. Exclusions were made for those with high-energy diets, those who had changed their diets over the last decade or had missing data - the final number of participants was 5,604.

Early AMD was found in 1,680 cases and 77 cases of late AMD were reported following bilateral digital macular photographs at a follow-up from 2003–2006. Higher red meat intake was found to be positively associated with early AMD. Dr Elaine E-W.T. Chong and her research team reported that someone eating red meat 10 times a week was 1.47 times more likely to have early AMD than a person who ate it less than five times a week.

Similar trends towards increasing prevalence of early AMD were observed among people with higher intakes of fresh and processed red meat separately. There were no significant differences reported in the rates of late AMD.

Chicken consumption appeared to have an opposite effect. Late AMD was significantly less for those eating chicken three and a half times a week or more compared with those who ate it less than one-and-a-half times a week.

The results suggest that different meats may differently affect AMD risk and may be a target for lifestyle modification.