Hearing loss linked to late menopause, extended hormone use

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Published: August, 2017

It was once thought that hearing loss in older women might be linked to loss of estrogen and progesterone following menopause and that hormone therapy might reduce that risk. Recent results from the Nurses' Health Study II indicate just the opposite — that late natural menopause and the use of oral hormone therapy are linked to a higher risk of hearing loss.

Researchers enrolled 80,972 women ages 27 to 44 in 1991. All completed periodic questionnaires on their health status and lifestyles. By 2013, 18,558 participants had reported hearing loss. When the researchers analyzed the results, they found that women who underwent natural menopause at age 50 or older had a 10% greater risk of hearing loss than women who reached menopause before 50. Compared with nonusers, women who used hormone therapy — either estrogen alone or estrogen and progesterone — had a 15% greater risk of hearing loss if they used hormones for five to 10 years and 21% higher risk if they used them 10 years or longer.

Further studies are needed to determine whether hormone use causes hearing loss. As of now, the results, published online May 10, 2017, by the journal Menopause, indicate that hormone therapy doesn't help to preserve a woman's hearing.

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