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Estrogen May Protect
Women From Hearing Loss



NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although the benefits of estrogen have become more controversial in the past few years, researchers now report that the hormone may protect women from age-related hearing loss.

According to their study, postmenopausal women with lower levels of estrogen in their blood were more likely to be diagnosed with some degree of hearing loss. However, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was not associated with better hearing, possibly because just 3% of the group were taking HRT during the study, the researchers suggest.

While additional research into the potential effects of HRT on hearing are needed, the findings indicate that "estrogen has a favorable effect on the hearing sensitivity of postmenopausal women," report Dr. Sung Hoon Kim, from the University of Ulsan in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues.

Roughly 30% of people over the age of 65, and half of those aged 75 years and older experience some degree of hearing loss, a condition associated with depression and social isolation.

The researchers measured the bone density at two different places in the body and determined blood levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, in 1,830 postmenopausal women at least 50 years old. About 10% were diagnosed with some degree of hearing loss.

The results, which are published in the May issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology, reveal that older women were more likely to have impaired hearing. There was no relationship between bone mineral density and hearing loss in women, contradicting previous studies that have demonstrated a relationship between thinner bones and impaired hearing.

"These findings suggest that hearing sensitivity in postmenopausal women is determined mainly by age and...estradiol level," Kim and colleagues conclude.

SOURCE: Obstetrics and Gynecology 2002;99:726-730.


Reference Source 89

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