Supplementation with lutein and zeaxanthin reduces the likelihood of progression of age-related macular degeneration. However, unlike beta-carotene, which was used previously, the new supplement does not increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer.
A dietary supplement with the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin reduces the risk of progression of age-related macular degeneration, scientists from the National Eye Institute, part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), reported. The results of the AREDS2 study were published on the NIH website with a link to the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.
A 10-year follow-up analysis showed that the supplement used in the AREDS2 study was 20% more effective in reducing the progression of age-related macular degeneration than the beta-carotene supplement previously studied (RR 0.80). However, unlike beta-carotene, use of the AREDS2 supplement did not increase the risk of lung cancer.
The first AREDS study began in 1996. Then, 4,203 participants took a supplement that included 500 mg of vitamin C, 400 IU of vitamin E, 2 mg of copper, 80 mg of zinc and 15 mg of beta-carotene. This supplement significantly reduced the likelihood of progression of age-related macular degeneration, but almost doubled the risk of lung cancer among smokers.
In 2006, scientists replaced the beta-carotene in the supplement with a combination of 10 mg of lutein and 2 mg of zeaxanthin, which also have antioxidant properties and affect the retina. Patients who never smoked continued to receive the beta-carotene supplement. Five years later, researchers concluded that lutein and zeaxanthin did not increase the risk of lung cancer and that the new supplement formula reduced the likelihood of progression of age-related macular degeneration by 26%.
The final phase of the AREDS2 study included 3,883 participants. The average age of the participants was 72 years. All patients received a supplement formula with lutein and zeaxanthin.