Acquired hearing loss is common and often disabling, yet limited prospective data exist on potentially modifiable risk factors. Evidence suggests that higher intake of fish and long-chain omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) may be associated with a lower risk of hearing loss, but prospective information on these relations is limited.
We prospectively examined the independent associations between consumption of total and specific types of fish, long-chain omega-3 PUFAs, and self-reported hearing loss in women.
Data were from the Nurses' Health Study II, a prospective cohort study. The independent associations between consumption of fish and long-chain omega-3 PUFAs and self-reported hearing loss were examined in 65,215 women followed from 1991 to 2009. Baseline and updated information was obtained from validated biennial questionnaires. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to estimate multivariable-adjusted RRs and 95% CIs.
After 1,038,093 person-years of follow-up, 11,606 cases of incident hearing loss were reported. Consumption of 2 or more servings of fish per week was associated with a lower risk of hearing loss. In comparison with women who rarely consumed fish (<1 serving/mo), the multivariable-adjusted RR for hearing loss among women who consumed 2-4 servings of fish per week was 0.80 (95% CI: 0.74, 0.88) (P-trend < 0.001). When examined individually, higher consumption of each specific fish type was inversely associated with risk (P-trend ≤ 0.04). Higher intake of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs was also inversely associated with risk of hearing loss. In comparison with women in the lowest quintile of intake of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs, the multivariable-adjusted RR for hearing loss among women in the highest quintile was 0.85 (95% CI: 0.80, 0.91) and among women in the highest decile was 0.78 (95% CI: 0.72, 0.85) (P-trend < 0.001).
Regular fish consumption and higher intake of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs are associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women.