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Study finds similar pathogenic pathways in AMD and some cancers


The South Korean study found that those with age-related macular degeneration may be more at risk of developing some cancers, like renal and thyroid.

Older woman with headwrap hugging daughter Image Credit: AdobeStock/AfricaStudio

Image Credit: AdobeStock/AfricaStudio

Junhee Park, MD, and associates reported a possible association between several cancers and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that they identified in a population-based cohort study.1 Park is from the Family Medicine Department, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea.

The investigators believe that AMD and cancer may have similar risk factors in common, thus suggesting that they have common pathogenic pathways.

They analyzed 10 years of data from the Korean National Health Insurance Service database (2009-2019). This included individuals who had participated in a national health screening program in 2009. The participants were categorized based on the presence of AMD and visual disability.

The cohort included over 4 million patients, of whom 51596 had AMD and of those with AMD, 3683 were visually disabled. The mean patient follow-up was 9.6 years, Park reported.

Specifically, the overall cancer risk was generally null. “However, the risks of hypervascular cancer such as thyroid cancer (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 1.10, 95% confidence interval [CI ]1.00 to 1.20) and renal cancer (adjusted HR 1.16, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.33) were higher and the risk of stomach cancer (adjusted HR 0.89, 95% CI 0.84 to 0.94) was lower in the AMD group than in the non-AMD group.

Park and colleagues concluded, “This study demonstrated a possible association between AMD and several cancers. The increased risks of renal and thyroid cancer among patients with AMD could indicate that AMD is associated with hypervascular cancer. Further studies in which additional databases are used and the underlying detailed mechanisms evaluated are needed to validate our results.”

  1. Park J, Jung W, Han K, et al. Association between age-related macular degeneration and risk of incident cancer. Br J Ophthalmol. 2024; published online February 28; https://doi.org/10.1136/bjo-2023-323874
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