Boston, MA — Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million Americans. Some evidence suggests that diet may influence risk of hearing loss. Previous studies have looked at how specific nutrients affect risk, but the relation of overall diet and risk of developing hearing loss was unclear. In a new study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined the relation between three different diets and risk of developing hearing loss: The Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) in 70,966 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II who were followed for 22 years, and found that eating a healthy diet is associated with a lower risk of acquired hearing loss in women. Results are published in the Journal of Nutrition on May 11.
“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” said Sharon Curhan, MD, an epidemiologist in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, and first author of the study. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”
In this longitudinal study, researchers collected detailed information on dietary intake every four years and found that women whose diets most closely resembled the AMED or DASH dietary patterns had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss, compared with women whose diets resembled these dietary patterns the least. Moreover, findings in a sub-cohort of over 33,000 women for whom detailed hearing-related information had been collected suggest that the magnitude of the reduced risk may be even greater than 30 percent, and may also pertain to the AHEI-2010. The AMED diet includes extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and moderate intake of alcohol. The DASH diet is high in fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, and low in sodium. The AHEI-2010 diet has common components with AMED and DASH.
Assessment of hearing loss was based on self-report. Researchers say further research in additional populations is warranted.
This study was supported by NIH grants DC 010811 and UM1 CA 176276.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) is a 793-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare. BWH has more than 4.2 million annual patient visits and nearly 46,000 inpatient stays, is the largest birthing center in Massachusetts and employs nearly 16,000 people. The Brigham’s medical preeminence dates back to 1832, and today that rich history in clinical care is coupled with its national leadership in patient care, quality improvement and patient safety initiatives, and its dedication to research, innovation, community engagement and educating and training the next generation of health care professionals. Through investigation and discovery conducted at its Brigham Research Institute (BRI), BWH is an international leader in basic, clinical and translational research on human diseases, more than 3,000 researchers, including physician-investigators and renowned biomedical scientists and faculty supported by nearly $666 million in funding. For the last 25 years, BWH ranked second in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) among independent hospitals. BWH is also home to major landmark epidemiologic population studies, including the Nurses’ and Physicians’ Health Studies and the Women’s Health Initiative as well as the TIMI Study Group, one of the premier cardiovascular clinical trials groups. For more information, resources and to follow us on social media, please visit BWH’s online newsroom.
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