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Smoking and alcohol linked to increased risk of AMD

Are smoking, alcohol intake, blood pressure, body mass index, and glycemic traits associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD)?

A group of researchers from University College London, Queen Mary University of London, University of Cambridge, and Moorfields Eye Hospital have completed a mendelian randomisation study to determine an answer.

According to their study findings, genetically predicted smoking initiation and lifetime smoking were associated with elevated risk of advanced AMD, and genetically predicted alcohol intake was associated with increased risk of geographic atrophy (GA).

Genetically predicted smoking cessation was associated with decreased risk of advanced AMD.

There was insufficient evidence to associate genetically predicted blood pressure, body mass index, and glycemic traits with advanced AMD.

Their study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, drew on data from the International AMD Genomics Consortium 2016 data set, which consisted of 16,144 individuals with AMD and 17,832 control individuals. Data were analysed from July 2020 to September 2021.

“To reduce the prevalence of advanced AMD in ageing populations, public health campaigns and programs to support smoking abstention, smoking cessation, and reduced alcohol intake should incorporate the evidence that these activities can lead to blindness,” the authors wrote.

These results also support previous observational studies associating smoking behaviour with risk of advanced AMD, thus reinforcing existing public health messages regarding the risk of blindness associated with smoking.

The study can be accessed here.

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