Eating more fish seems to reduce risk of hearing loss

Eating fish regularly may lower your risk of suffering hearing loss, at least if you are a woman. That finding was reported by Sharon G. Curhan, MD, of the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and her four co-authors in a study published September 10 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Sharon Curhan
Sharon Curhan

The researchers drew upon data collected from more than 65,000 nurses around the U.S. over 18 years as part of the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II). Among the goals of NHS II, which received funding from the National Institutes of Health, was to examine diet and lifestyle risk factors in a population of women who were age 27-42 when the study began in 1989.

Every two years, the participating nurses were sent a follow-up questionnaire, which included a question asking if they had a hearing problem and, if so, at what age they first noticed it.

Analysis of the data showed that those surveyed who consumed two or more servings of fish a week had a 20% lower risk of hearing loss than those who ate fish less than once a month.



Interestingly, Curhan and colleagues found a lower rate of hearing loss in women regardless of the particular type of fish they ate. There has been considerable evidence that fish oil and the omega-3 fatty acids it contains are associated with a number of health benefits, including lowering of elevated triglyceride levels, reduced pain from rheumatoid arthritis, and a lowered incidence of depression. Hence, it seemed that eating oilier fish, such as albacore tuna and swordfish, might be more beneficial.

However, when  interviewed by Allison Aubrey on Shots, a National Public Radio program, Curhan said that the data showed that eating any type of fish, including shellfish, was associated with the same reduced risk of hearing loss.

In the NPR interview, the researcher speculated that eating fish may be good for one’s hearing because it helps maintain a steady flow of blood to the cochlea.