AMD supplements increase smokers' risk of cancer

November 20, 2007

Smokers with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) should not be taking the age-related eye disease study (AREDS) formulation of vitamins and antioxidants, as it puts them at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, according to a presentation given at the Retina Subspecialty Day of this year's AAO congress in New Orleans, US.

Smokers with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) should not be taking the age-related eye disease study (AREDS) formulation of vitamins and antioxidants, as it puts them at an increased risk of developing lung cancer, according to a presentation given at the Retina Subspecialty Day of this year's AAO congress in New Orleans, US.

Emily Chew from the National Eye Institute, USA outlined which patients should and should not take AREDS supplements. The AREDS study enrolled 4,700 subjects to receive supplements of vitamin C and E, beta carotene, zinc and copper and were followed for an average of 6.3 years.

While a protective benefit was seen in patients with large bilateral macular drusen and advanced AMD in one eye, there was no protective benefit for patients with mild and moderate AMD. Patients who smoke, or who have given up smoking within the past year, should avoid the supplements altogether because of an increased risk of cancer.

For most individuals, however, the benefits of the supplements appear to outweigh any risks and Dr Chew concluded that this supplementation regimen could prevent 300,000 people over the next five years from developing advanced macular degeneration or experiencing significant loss of vision as a result of progressive disease.