Background: Specific nutrients have been associated with hearing status, but associations between healthful dietary patterns and risk of hearing loss have not been prospectively evaluated.
Objective: We sought to prospectively examine the relations between adherence to the Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), and risk of hearing loss.
Methods: We conducted a longitudinal cohort study (1991-2013) of 81,818 women in the Nurses' Health Study II, aged 27-44 y at baseline. We assessed diet every 4 y with the use of food frequency questionnaires and calculated AMED, DASH, and AHEI-2010 adherence scores. Baseline and updated information from validated biennial questionnaires was used in Cox proportional hazards regression models to examine independent associations between adherence scores and risk of self-reported moderate or worse hearing loss.
Results: During >1 million person-years of follow-up, 2306 cases of moderate or worse hearing loss were reported. Higher cumulative average AMED and DASH scores were significantly inversely associated with risk of hearing loss. For women with scores in the highest compared with the lowest quintile, the multivariable-adjusted relative risks (MVRRs) of hearing loss were 0.70 (95% CI: 0.60, 0.82) (P-trend <0.001) for AMED and 0.71 (95% CI: 0.61, 0.83) (P-trend <0.001) for DASH. Higher recent AHEI-2010 score was also associated with lower risk [MVRR = 0.79 (95% CI: 0.69, 0.91); P-trend <0.001]. Among participants with additional hearing-related information (n = 33,102), higher cumulative average adherence scores for all 3 dietary patterns were associated with lower risk; the MVRR was 0.63 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.81) for AMED, 0.64 (95% CI: 0.50, 0.83) for DASH, and 0.71 (95% CI: 0.56, 0.89) for AHEI-2010.
Conclusion: Adherence to healthful dietary patterns is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. Consuming a healthy diet may be helpful in reducing the risk of acquired hearing loss.