Two Servings Of Fish Weekly May Help Prevent Hearing Loss For Women Later In Life

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Preserve your hearing later in life by adding fish to your diet now. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Fish is one of those foods that you either love or hate. But if you’re one of those adamant seafood haters, a recent study might just be enough to change your mind. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found a “strong connection” between women who ate two or more servings of fish per week and decreased risk of hearing loss.

The study was made up of nearly 20 years of information from 65,215 who were enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II, Time reported. As part of the complex study, the women were asked information about their diets and health conditions. It did not take long for an interesting trend to begin to take shape: Those who ate fish were much less likely to have acquired hearing loss. The participants’ fish preference ranged from salmon to snapper, but the health benefits remained the same.  

Although the exact reason for this link between fish diets and retained hearing is not quite clear, the lead researcher, Dr. Sharon Curhan has a hypothesis. “Blood flow to the inner ear needs to be very well regulated in order to meet its high energy demands,” Curhan told Time. The long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish may play a part in aiding cochlear blood flow. Another theory is that one of the main components found in fish may be an integral part in auditory neurodevelopment.

Eating fish has been associated with a nearly unsurpassable amount of health benefits, especially for women. Past studies have found diets high in fish omega-3 fatty acids lower women’s chances of developing heart disease, provide important nutrients for fetal development, lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and help children to score better on reading and math tests. However, one must note, while all fish are found to bring about these health benefits, overconsumption of certain fish can actually do the opposite and bring about health consequences.

The Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency have advised limited consumption of high-mercury fish such as tuna, Chilean Sea Bass, and Swordfish. Mercury is a naturally occurring element, but fish, shellfish, and animals that eat fish are at risk of building up a toxic form of the chemical known as methylmercury. High exposure to mercury in humans can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, and immune system. Exposure in pregnant women was found to affect the developing nervous systems of their unborn children. The amount of mercury a fish will contain is dependent on the size of the fish and where in the world it was caught.

The researchers plan to conduct a similar study to see if fish consumption can also preserve hearing in men.

Source: Curhan SG, Eavey RD, Wang M, Rimm EB, Curham GC. Fish and fatty acid consumption and the risk of hearing loss in women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014.

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