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Omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful to prevent hearing loss

September 24, 2014

A new US study suggests that an increased consumption of fish with omega-3 fatty acids may be linked to a lower risk of hearing loss in women.

The prospective cohort study assessed self-reported fish consumption and documented cases of acquired hearing loss among 65,215 women during up to 18 years (1). The study results showed that in comparison with women who rarely consumed fish (tuna, dark fish, light fish or shellfish) women who consumed two or more servings of fish per week had a 20% lower risk of hearing loss. Higher intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids was also associated with a reduced risk of hearing loss.

The researchers commented that acquired hearing loss is a highly prevalent and often disabling chronic health condition. 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. Compromise of the blood supply to the cochlea may contribute to reduced auditory sensitivities, and thus vascular factors have been implicated as important contributors to hearing loss. Higher consumption of fish and increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular (2) and cerebrovascular disease (3) and may help in the maintenance of cochlear blood flow by similar mechanisms (4).

References

  1. Curhan S. G. et al. Fish and fatty acid consumption and the risk of hearing loss in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published online September 2014.
  2. Mozaffarian D. and Wu J. H. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: effects on risk factors, molecular pathways, and clinical events. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011; 58:2047–2067.
  3. He K. et al. Fish consumption and incidence of stroke: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Stroke. 2004; 35:1538–1542.
  4. Bourre J. M. Roles of unsaturated fatty acids (especially omega-3 fatty acids) in the brain at various ages and during ageing. J Nutr Health Aging. 2004; 8:163–174.