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Health study links women’s obesity to hearing loss

PHOENIX — A new study said hearing may be tied to weight, but to a Valley doctor it sounds doubtful.

According to the Harvard Nurses Health Study, obese women are 25 percent more likely to report hearing loss than those who aren’t.

The findings were published in the December issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Gail Padish Clarin, an audiology director for Banner Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, questioned the results. None of the women who were tracked were given a hearing test.

Some 68,000 women participated in the study from 1989 to 2009. At the end of the study, they were asked if they suffered any hearing loss and at what age it happened.

“Instead of completing tests to confirm if there is hearing loss, and the type and degree of the loss, they simply asked the patients if they had any hearing loss, and then asked the patients what their degree of hearing loss was,” Clarin said.

“That’s like me asking you to estimate your cholesterol levels (without doing any other testing). It’s like pulling it out of a hat.”

While the study did not prove that obesity directly harmed hearing, Clarin said it can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and other problems that can cause hearing loss. She believed that more study that includes hearing tests is needed.