Eat More Fish, Save Your Hearing?

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FRIDAY, Sept. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Eating more fish may reduce a woman's risk for hearing loss, according to a large new study.

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston found that consuming at least two servings of fish and omega-3s (long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids) each week could help prevent or delay hearing loss.

"Acquired hearing loss is a highly prevalent, and often disabling, chronic health condition," the study's corresponding author, Dr. Sharon Curhan, of the hospital's Division of Network Medicine, said in a hospital news release. "Although a decline in hearing is often considered an inevitable aspect of aging, the identification of several potentially modifiable risk factors has provided new insight into possibilities for prevention or delay of acquired hearing loss."

The study, published online Sept. 10 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved more than 65,000 women who were followed from 1991 to 2009. Of these women, more than 11,600 developed hearing loss.

But those women who ate two or more servings of fish weekly had a 20 percent lower risk for hearing loss than those who ate fish only rarely, the study showed. More specifically, eating more omega-3s, which are commonly found in seafood, was linked to a lower risk for hearing loss.

"Consumption of any type of fish (tuna, dark fish, light fish, or shellfish) tended to be associated with lower risk. These findings suggest that diet may be important in the prevention of acquired hearing loss," noted Curhan.

While the researchers found an association between greater fish consumption and hearing preservation, they didn't prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on the health benefits of fish and omega-3 fatty acids.