Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows

MONDAY Oct. 5, 2009 -- New research suggests that men -- especially married white men -- are much more likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss than women. But there's some good news: Another study finds that older men who take high doses of folate can decrease their risk of hearing loss by 20 percent.

The figures regarding hearing loss in men and women come from a study of hearing-test data from 5,290 people aged 20 to 69. An estimated 13 percent of them will suffer from noise-induced hearing loss, which researchers think affects about 24 million Americans.

The condition, caused by exposure to loud noise, is preventable.

Among the subjects, men were two-and-a-half times more likely than women to develop this type of hearing loss. Married, non-Hispanic white men had the highest risk, the study authors pointed out.

In another study, researchers found that increased doses of antioxidant vitamins don't improve a man's chances of avoiding hearing loss. But folate -- a type of vitamin B -- reduced the risk by 20 percent in men older than 60.

The findings came from a study of 3,559 men with hearing loss. Higher doses of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins C, E and beta carotene, had no effect, the researchers said.

Foods with high levels of folate include leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce and asparagus; dried or fresh beans; peas; liver products; and fortified cereal products.

The researchers pointed out that their study is the largest to look into links between diet and hearing loss.

The findings of both studies were scheduled to be presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery Foundation annual meeting, held Oct. 4 to 7 in San Diego, Calif.

More information

Learn more about seniors and hearing loss from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Posted: October 2009


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