Two observational studies link regular use (three months) of aspirin to macular degeneration even if that use was TEN YEARS ago. Reported on NYTimes Well Blog, “Aspirin Use Tied to Rare Eye Disorder,” 12/18/2012.
“It may be like smoking and cancer, where some people who have stopped years and years ago then get cancer,” Dr. Klein said. “It may seem out of the blue, but there’s something about latent exposure that carries forward.”
A correlation such as this does not definitively prove causation. I can’t tell from the article how much aspirin was taken — should we be unconcerned about “baby” aspirin and worried about two regular tablets? Or any level of aspirin?
Low doses of daily aspirin are often prescribed prophylactically for heart disease. Even though routine use of aspirin seemed to double the odds of getting macular degeneration, that risk went from 1 in 200 in all older Americans to 1 in 100 regular aspirin users. About 9 million people are diagnosed with macular degeneration in the US annually. (US NEws article with excellent info. April 14, 2009)
The long-term risks of taking aspirin should be balanced against the immediate benefits of heart disease or other disease prevention. As always, talk to your health-care provider, don’t just listen.