Nutrients might prevent hearing loss, new animal study suggests

This release is available in Spanish.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Soldiers exposed to the deafening din of battle have little defense against hearing loss, and are often reluctant to wear protective gear like ear plugs that could make them less able to react to danger. But what if a nutritious daily "candy bar" could prevent much of that potential damage to their hearing?

In a new study in animals, University of Michigan researchers report that a combination of high doses of vitamins A, C, and E and magnesium, taken one hour before noise exposure and continued as a once-daily treatment for five days, was very effective at preventing permanent noise-induced hearing loss. The animals had prolonged exposure to sounds as loud as a jet engine at take-off at close range.

Clinical trials of a hearing-protection tablet or snack bar for people could begin soon, and if successful such a product could be available in as little as two years, says Josef M. Miller, Ph.D., the senior author of the study, which is published online in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine. Miller is a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the U-M Medical School, and former director of the U-M Health Systems Kresge Hearing Research Institute, where the study was performed.

Convinced by emerging evidence that nutrients can effectively block one major factor in hearing loss after noise trauma inner ear damage caused by excessive free radical activity Miller has launched a U-M startup company OtoMedicine that is developing the vitamin-and-magnesium formulation.

"These agents have been used for many years, but not for hearing loss. We know theyre safe, so that opens the door to push ahead with clinical trials with confidence were not going to do any harm," says Miller.

The formulation the researchers used built on earlier animal studies

Contact: Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System

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