It’s just natural that as people age, their hearing gets worse, right?
Not according to researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who have recently published their prospective study of eating habits and hearing threshold decline in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Gathering data on on pure-tone hearing thresholds from participants across 19 sites in the US over the course of three years, the researchers then compared these results with longitudinal data on participants’ dietary intake. Participants whose diets most closely resembled recommended healthy diets, such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, the Alternate Mediterranean (AMED) diet, and the Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), were found to have substantially lower odds of decline in hearing sensitivity, at both mid- and high frequencies.
“The association between diet and hearing sensitivity decline encompassed frequencies that are critical for speech understanding,” said lead author Sharon Curhan, MD, a physician and epidemiologist in the Brigham’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time. The mean age of the women in our study was 59 years; most of our participants were in their 50s and early 60s. This is a younger age than when many people think about having their hearing checked.
The study included female health care professionals, which enhanced the validity of the health information collected and reduced the variability in educational achievement and socioeconomic status, but the study population was limited to predominantly middle-aged, non-Hispanic white women. The team hopes to continue to follow the participants of this study, as well as collect research-quality information across diverse populations for future studies.
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