Background: The majority of research performed to date has examined the effects of commonly known antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and A and carotenoids on age-related macular degeneration (AMD) risk and progression. To date, there is limited research on promising phytochemicals with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, including flavonoids.
Objective: In this exploratory study, we aimed to assess the independent associations between dietary intake of total flavonoids and common flavonoid classes with the prevalence and 15-y incidence of AMD.
Design: In this population-based cohort study, 2856 adults aged ≥49 y at baseline and 2037 followed up 15 y later were included in prevalence and incidence analyses, respectively. Dietary intake was assessed by using a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Estimates of the flavonoid content of foods in the FFQ were assessed by using the USDA Flavonoid, Isoflavone, and Proanthocyanidin databases. AMD was assessed from retinal photographs.
Results: In cross-sectional analysis, each 1-SD increase in total overall flavonoid intake was associated with a reduced likelihood of any AMD (multivariable-adjusted OR: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.58, 0.99). Each 1-SD increase in dietary intake of total flavonols and total flavanones was associated with reduced odds of the prevalence of any AMD [multivariable-adjusted OR (95% CI): 0.75 (0.58, 0.97) and 0.77 (0.60, 0.99), respectively]. A marginally significant trend (P = 0.05) was observed between increasing the intake of total flavanone and hesperidin (from the first to the fourth quartile) and reduced likelihood of incident late AMD, after multivariable adjustment. Participants who reported ≥1 serving of oranges/d compared with those who never consumed oranges at baseline had a reduced risk of late AMD 15 y later (multivariable-adjusted OR: 0.39; 95% CI: 0.18, 0.85).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest an independent and protective association between dietary intake of flavonoids and the likelihood of having AMD. Additional prospective cohort studies are needed to validate these findings.