MONDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- Healthy men who take beta-carotene supplements do not have a lower risk of developing age-related maculopathy, according to the results of a randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the March issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

William G. Christen, Sc.D., of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues randomly assigned 22,071 healthy males, aged 40 to 84 years, to either placebo or 50 milligrams of beta-carotene, taken every other day.

After 12 years of treatment and follow-up, there were similar numbers of age-related maculopathy cases in the beta-carotene and placebo groups (162 versus 170, respectively, relative risk 0.96), as defined by a reduction in best-corrected visual acuity to 20/30 or worse that was attributable to the disease. There were also similar numbers of cases of age-related maculopathy with or without vision loss (relative risk, 1.01) and advanced disease (relative risk 0.97) in both groups, the report indicates.

"Long-term supplemental use of beta-carotene neither decreases nor increases the risk of age-related maculopathy," Christen and colleagues conclude.

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