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    Posted August 11, 2014 by
    Boston, Massachusetts

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    High caffeine intake linked to lower risk of tinnitus

    Consuming 450 to 599 mg/day of caffeine lower risk by 15%

    Tinnitus is commonly defined as the subjective perception of sound by an individual, in the absence of external sounds. Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus or head noises. It may be an intermittent sound or an annoying continuous sound in one or both ears.

    Caffeine has been believed to play a part in the development of tinnitus but prospective data is inadequate.

    In a new study researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) examined the association between caffeine intake and self-reported tinnitus in a female cohort.

    This new study included 65,085 women in the Nurses' Health Study II, aged 30 to 44 years with an average age of 36.3 years and without tinnitus at baseline in 1991, who completed questionnaires about lifestyle and medical history every 2 years and food frequency questionnaires every 4 years. Information on self-reported tinnitus and date of onset was obtained from the 2009 questionnaire, with cases defined as those reporting experiencing symptoms “a few days/week” or “daily.”

    After follow-up of 18 years, 5,289 cases of tinnitus were reported.

    Compared with women with caffeine intake less than 150 mg/d (about one and a half 8-ounce cups of coffee) the incidence of reported tinnitus was 15 % lower among those women who consumed 450 to 599 mg/day of caffeine. The majority of caffeine consumed among the women was from coffee and the results did not vary by age.

    According to Dr. Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, senior author of this paper and a physician-researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, "We observed a significant inverse association between caffeine intake and the incidence of tinnitus among these women.”

    Professor Curhan noted "The reason behind this observed association is unclear.” We know that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. and previous research has demonstrated that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear in both bench science and animal studies.”

    The researchers note that further evidence is needed to make any recommendations about whether addition of caffeine would improve tinnitus symptoms.

    This study is published in the American Journal of Medicine.
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