"It doesn't matter if the noise comes from years of on-the-job exposure or from a source that isn't job-related," said Colin Edwards, a doctoral student in the School of Public Health at Ohio State University.
In the current study, people who were repeatedly exposed to loud noise over the span of several years were on average one-and-a-half times as likely to develop this type of tumor compared to people who weren't exposed to such noise on a regular basis.
The tumor, called acoustic neuroma, grows slowly and symptoms typically become noticeable around age 50 or older. Of the 146 people with acoustic neuroma in this study, nearly two out of three were 50 or older.
An acoustic neuroma tumor slowly presses the cranial nerve that is responsible for sensing sound and helping with balance. Symptoms include hearing loss and a constant ringing in the ears, or tinnitus.
The study is currently in the online advance access edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study will also appear in the February 15 printed edition of the same journal.
Edwards and his colleagues gathered four years of data from the Swedish portion of the INTERPHONE Study, an international study of cell phone use and tumors that affect the brain and head.
The researchers used the Swedish portion of the study because health officials there keep meticulous data on rates of acoustic neuroma development in the country's population, said Judith Schwartzbaum, a study co-author and an associate professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health at Ohio State .
In addition to the 146 study participants with acoustic neuroma, another 564 people without the tumor who served as controls were also interviewed by a nurse. The participants in this group were randomly selected from the co