ASPIRIN CAN TRIPLE THE RISK OF BLINDNESS-CAUSING DISEASE IN REGULAR USERS, RESEARCHERS WARN
Stephen Adams, The Daily Telegraph, National Post Wire Services | Jan 22, 2013 11:25 AM ET | Last Updated: Jan 22, 2013 11:58 AM ET More from National Post Wire Services
Aspirin users who already consider the risks of ulcers due to continued regular usage should also factor in the increased risk of an illness that causes blindness, researchers now say.
LONDON — Regular use of aspirin can almost triple the chance of developing a condition that is the leading cause of blindness, researchers have warned. Scientists concluded that people who take aspirin on a regular basis are much more likely to develop “wet” age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD) than those who do not. The disease, in which one’s central vision becomes progressively more blurred, affects a quarter of a million mainly elderly people in Britain.
Scientists in Australia said that they had found the strongest evidence yet that aspirin, taken by millions to ward off heart attacks, strokes and cancer, appeared to greatly increase the chance of developing wet AMD, which is irreversible. ‘Regular aspirin use was significantly associated with an increased incidence of neovascular AMD’ The academics drew their conclusions after following almost 2,400 middle-aged and elderly people for 15 years.
Of the participants, who were all at least 49 years old at the start of the study, 257 were deemed “regular” users of aspirin, who took it at least once a week. The rest took it only occasionally. After the 15-year study period, one in 27 of the “occasional” users (3.7%) had developed wet AMD. But almost one in 10 of the “regular” users (9.4%) had developed it. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers concluded: “Regular aspirin use was significantly associated with an increased incidence of neovascular [wet] AMD.”
Sight charities said doctors should bear the findings in mind when advising patients on whether or not they should take aspirin as a preventive medicine, particularly those who already had wet AMD in one eye.Taken at a low daily dose to prevent heart attacks and strokes, aspirin is enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to recent studies strongly indicating it can fight cancer.
Oxford University researchers have found it reduces the incidence of some cancers by a third, while it also retards the growth of tumours. However, aspirin has long been known to have side effects, most prominently increasing the risk of intestinal bleeds, which can cause ulcers. The study, by a team at Sydney University, suggests people should also consider the possible effect on their sight.
The Daily Telegraph