Regular analgesic use may increase hearing loss risk

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Men who regularly take aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) more than twice a week may be at increased risk for hearing loss, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine and highlighted by the L.A. Timeshealth blog. The research included nearly 27,000 men between ages 40 to 74 at the beginning of the study period, in 1986, who completed questionnaires about their hearing every two years. Researchers found that, independently, each analgesic included in the study was associated with some level of increased risk of hearing loss.

Of the entire study group, nearly 3,500, or roughly 13%, went on to develop some hearing loss. After controlling for the potential impact of other potential risk factors, the researchers found that significant risk of hearing loss associated with taking analgesics more than twice per week: men who used aspirin more than twice a week had a 12% higher risk for hearing loss compared with those who took it less than two times per week; men who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which includes ibuprofen, had a 21% higher risk for hearing loss; and men who took acetaminophen had a 22% higher risk for hearing loss.

What’s more, the researchers found, the risk of hearing loss associated with analgesic use was higher among younger study participants—specifically men under age 50. In men aged 40-50 at the study’s onset, those who took aspirin more than twice weekly had a 33% higher risk for some hearing loss compared to those who took it less frequently; men who took NSAIDs had a 66% higher risk; and men who took acetaminophen had a 99% higher risk.

The hearing loss study was conducted by a team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Vanderbilt University, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the Harvard School of Public Health. Read the L.A. Times blog post here. Read the study abstract here.

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