MONDAY, May 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- A healthy diet may reduce a woman's risk of hearing loss, a new study finds.
"We observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss," said study first author Dr. Sharon Curhan, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
The researchers analyzed data from nearly 71,000 women followed for 22 years in the Nurses' Health Study II.
Those whose eating habits most closely resembled the Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED) or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were 30 percent less likely to suffer moderate or severe hearing loss than those whose eating habits were least like those diets, the study found.
The AMED diet features extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and moderate intake of alcohol. The DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, while restricting salt.
A similar healthy diet called the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 may also reduce women's risk of hearing loss, according to the study authors.
The researchers can't show a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Still, "eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss," Curhan said in a hospital news release.
About 48 million Americans have hearing loss. While previous studies have examined how specific nutrients might affect risk, the link between overall diet and risk of hearing loss was unclear, the researchers noted.
The findings were published May 11 in the Journal of Nutrition.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on hearing problems.