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Cigarette Smoking and Risk of Cataracts

John J. Salchert, MD
JAMA. 1993;269(6):747. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060047025.
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To the Editor.  —As a physician who has participated in the Physician's Health Study since its inception, I am concerned over the conclusions of the recent report in JAMA.1 Early in the study, we received questionnaires regarding any problems with our eyes, and at that time no explanation was given for the request. Recently, I was found to have cataracts (not a family trait); I am 56 years old and have not smoked for 20 years, and then not heavily.I question the effects of both the aspirin and the β-carotene that have been used in the study and wonder if the wrong conclusion has been reached. Does the β-carotene or the aspirin have a direct effect on cataract formation or does the combination of smoking and the medication cause the cataracts?

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