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Benefits of Fish Oil: Prevent or Delay Age Related Hearing Loss

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.29370). suggests that dietary intervention with omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid and fish may prevent or delay the development of age-related hearing loss. The abstract is provided here. For a copy of the full study or a subscription to the journal, visit www.ajcn.org

Authors: Bamini Gopinath, Victoria M Flood, Elena Rochtchina, Catherine M McMahon and Paul Mitchell. From the Centre for Vision Research, Department of Ophthalmology, and Westmead Millennium Institute (BG, ER, and PM), and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy (BG), University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia; the Faculty of Health and Behavioural Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia (VMF); and the Centre for Language Sciences, Linguistics Department, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia (CMM).

The Blue Mountains Eye Study and Hearing Study were supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (grants 974159, 991407, 211069, and 262120).

Background: Identification of modifiable risk factors that could prevent or slow the development of age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) would be valuable. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) intake may be related to age-related hearing loss.

Objective: We aimed to determine the association between dietary intakes of omega-3 (n–3) PUFAs and fish and the risk of presbycusis.

Design: The Blue Mountains Hearing Study is a population-based survey of age-related hearing loss (1997–1999 to 2002–2004). We collected dietary data by using a semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire and calculated PUFA and fish intakes. In 2956 participants (aged ≥50 y), we measured presbycusis, which we defined as the pure-tone average of frequencies 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 kHz ≥25 decibels of hearing loss.

Results: There was an inverse association between total n–3 PUFA intake and prevalent hearing loss [odds ratio (OR) per SD increase in energy-adjusted n–3 PUFAs: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.81, 0.99]. There was an inverse association between long-chain n–3 PUFAs and incident hearing loss (OR per SD increase in long-chain n–3 PUFAs: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.60, 0.97). Participants who had ≥2 servings of fish/wk compared with participants who had ≤1 serving of fish/wk had a significantly reduced risk (42%) of developing presbycusis at follow-up (multivariate-adjusted OR: 0.58; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.95). There was an association between consumption of ≥1 to ≤2 servings/wk of fish and a reduced risk of a progression of hearing loss (OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.32, 0.88).

Conclusions: There was an inverse association between higher intakes of long-chain n–3 PUFAs and regular weekly consumption of fish and hearing loss. Dietary intervention with n–3 PUFAs could prevent or delay the development of age-related hearing loss.

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