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Regular Aspirin Use Linked to Wet Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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Washington, DC: A new study on regular Aspirin use has shown an association with neovascular or "wet"age-related macular generation(AMD). Medical experts are quick to point out, however, that the study does not prove that Aspirin causes the disease.

The prospective Australian study included 2,389 participants who were at least 49 years of age. The researchers found that while approximately 4% of occasional or non-users of aspirin developed wet AMD, the incidence rose to approximately 9% in regular aspirin users.

Jie Jin Wang, PhD, of the University of Sydney, and colleagues analyzed data from the Blue Mountains Eye Study. As part of the study retinal examinations were done every five years, and lesions classified as either wet macular degeneration or dry macular degeneration.

Regular aspirin use was reported in 257 participants, who were also older with a higher incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and elevated blood pressure, compared with non-regular aspirin users. During 15 years of follow-up, age-related wet macular degeneration was identified in 63 individuals.

Experts are quick to point out that cardiovascular disease and wet AMD share some common risk factors, including smoking, making it impossible, based on these results alone, to say with certainty that aspirin definitely increases risk of wet AMD. Nevertheless, the results raise the possibility that AMD may be another health concern associated with regular aspirin use, in addition to cerebral and gastrointestinal bleeding. The researchers state in their paper that "Our present study now raises the possibility that the risk of neovascular [age-related macular degeneration] may also need to be considered."

The study was published online in JAMA Internal Medicine and funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council Australia.

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