People who take analgesic drugs frequently may be at increased risk of end-stage renal disease (ESRD), but the extent of this risk remains unclear.
We studied 716 patients treated for ESRD and 361 control subjects of similar age from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The study participants were interviewed by telephone about their past use of medications containing acetaminophen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For each analgesic drug, the average use (in pills per year) and the cumulative intake (in pills) were examined for any association with ESRD.
Heavier acetaminophen use was associated with an increased risk of ESRD in a dose-dependent fashion. When persons who took an average of 0 to 104 pills per year were used for reference, the odds ratio of ESRD was 1.4 (95 percent confidence interval, 0.8 to 2.4) for those who took 105 to 365 pills per year and 2.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.1 to 3.7) for those who took 366 or more pills per year, after adjustment for race, sex, age, and intake of other analgesic drugs. When persons who had taken fewer than 1000 pills containing acetaminophen in their lifetime were used for reference, the odds ratio was 2.0 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.3 to 3.2) for those who had taken 1000 to 4999 pills and 2.4 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 4.8) for those who had taken 5000 or more pills. Approximately 8 to 10 percent of the overall incidence of ESRD was attributable to acetaminophen use. A cumulative dose of 5000 or more pills containing NSAIDs was also associated with an increased odds of ESRD (odds ratio, 8.8), but the use of aspirin was not.
People who often take acetaminophen or NSAIDs have an increased risk of ESRD, but not those who often take aspirin.
Several case-control studies suggest an association between analgesic use and increased risk of chronic renal disease, but few cohort studies have examined this association.
To determine whether analgesic use is associated with risk of renal dysfunction.
DESIGN AND SETTING:
Cohort study of analgesic use data from the Physicians' Health Study, which lasted 14 years from September 1982 to December 1995 with annual follow-up.
A total of 11 032 initially healthy men who provided blood samples and self-report of analgesic use.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Elevated creatinine level defined as 1.5 mg/dL (133 micromol/L) or higher and a reduced creatinine clearance defined as 55 mL/min (0.9 mL/s) or less, and self-reported use of acetaminophen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (never [<12 pills]; 12-1499 pills; 1500-2499 pills; and >/=2500 pills).
A total of 460 men had elevated creatinine levels (4.2%) and 1258 had reduced creatinine clearance (11.4%). Mean creatinine levels and creatinine clearances were similar among men who did not use analgesics and those who did, even at total intakes of 2500 or more pills. In multivariable analyses adjusted for age; body mass index; history of hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes; occurrence of cardiovascular disease; physical activity; and use of other analgesics, the relative risks of elevated creatinine level associated with intake of 2500 or more pills were 0.83 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.50-1.39; P for trend =.05) for acetaminophen, 0.98 (95% CI, 0.53-1.81; P for trend =.96) for aspirin, and 1.07 (95% CI, 0.71-1.64; P for trend =.86) for other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. No association was observed between analgesic use and reduced creatinine clearance.
Moderate analgesic use in this cohort study of initially healthy men was not associated with increased risk of renal dysfunction.
Analgesics are commonly used and may impair kidney function. However, limited prospective information is available on the long-term effects of aspirin, other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and acetaminophen on renal function.
A total of 1697 women participating in the Nurses' Health Study provided information on a mailed questionnaire in 1999 about lifetime use of acetaminophen, aspirin, and NSAIDs and provided blood samples in 1989 and 2000. The main outcome was change in estimated glomerular filtration rate (GFR) in 11 years. Multivariate logistic regression was used to determine the odds of developing the outcome according to lifetime analgesic intake.
The mean +/- SD estimated GFR decreased from 88 +/- 17 to 79 +/- 17 mL/min per 1.73 m(2). There were no substantial differences in the unadjusted or estimated GFR levels among the categories of lifetime intake for the 3 analgesic groups at baseline or after 11 years. Acetaminophen use was associated with an increased risk of a GFR decline of at least 30 mL/min per 1.73 m(2) (P trend =.01) and a GFR decline of 30% or greater (P trend<.001), but aspirin and NSAID use were not. Compared with women consuming less than 100 g of acetaminophen, multivariate-adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence intervals) for a decline in GFR of at least 30 mL/min per 1.73 m(2) for women consuming more than 3000 g was 2.04 (1.28-3.24).
Higher lifetime use of aspirin and NSAIDs is not associated with renal function decline, but high acetaminophen use may increase the risk of loss of renal function. The absolute risk of renal function decline due to even high lifetime analgesic intake seems to be modest.
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