Is High Body Mass Linked to Hearing Loss Among Women?

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A high body mass and a large waist are both linked with self-reported hearing loss, according to a new study.

Researchers used data from a 20-year prospective study of over 68,000 women who were 24 to 42 years old at the start. After controlling for age, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other factors, they found that the higher the body mass index (BMI), the greater the risk for hearing loss. 

Compared to women with BMI less than 25, those with a BMI 25-29 had an 8 percent increased risk.

  • For BMI 30-34, the risk increased by 11 percent.
  • For BMI 35-39, the risk increased by 16 percent.
  • For BMI over 40, the risk increased 19 percent.
  • The increasing risk associated with a larger waist followed a similar pattern.
  • Morederate physical activity (as little as 4 hours of walking per week) also reduced the risk of hearing loss, but there was no further advantage with more vigorous exercise.

Obesity might compromise blood flow to the inner ear, and exercise may improve it.Hearing loss may not be an inevitable part of growing older. There may be things we can do to prevent it, offers the lead investigator Dr. Sharon G. Curhan of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, USA).

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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Reference: Sharon G. Curhan et al. Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Physical Activity, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women. American Journal of Medicine 2013;126(12):1142.