TUESDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- People who use aspirin regularly for at least 10 years run a small risk of developing a potentially blinding condition known as age-related macular degeneration, researchers report.
In the United States, an estimated 19 percent of adults report using aspirin regularly and aspirin use increases with age, the University of Wisconsin researchers noted. Meanwhile, the incidence of age-related macular degeneration is increasing as the population ages, making this association important to examine, they added.
"There are a lot of people taking aspirin for cardioprotection," said lead researcher Dr. Barbara Klein, from the university's School of Medicine and Public Health.
"Heart attacks have a high risk of death, so the question is: is it worth the possible increase in [risk for] age-related macular degeneration, compared to the risk of getting a heart attack?" she said.
"These data do not suggest that people should stop taking aspirin for cardioprophylaxis," Klein said. "One should not alter aspirin use based on these findings."
The report was published in the Dec. 19 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For the study, Klein's team collected data on almost 5,000 men and women who took part in the Beaver Dam Eye Study. Participants had their eyes checked every five years over a 20-year period. In addition, they were asked about their use of aspirin.
Over almost 15 years of follow-up, 512 people developed early macular degeneration and 117 people developed late macular degeneration.
The investigators found that people who took aspirin for 10 years almost doubled their risk for developing macular degeneration, compared with a less than 1 percent risk among people who did not take aspirin.
When the researchers looked specifically at late age-related macular degeneration, they found
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