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Scientists raise caution about effects of HRT on hearing

esbycusis, involves the brain's faltering ability to process information. It's not much different from the work your computer does when billions of electronic signals registering as "0s" and "1s" flow in from the Internet the computer takes those signals and makes words and graphics which we grasp quickly.

Our brains do similar work, filtering out unneeded information and prioritizing and organizing other information in a way we can understand. It's this sophisticated system that decreases as we get older, the team has found and it's this ability that is most diminished in women who have received HRT compared to women who have not. Women in the HRT group on average performed this task 30 percent less effectively than other women.

"This would be most noticeable in situations where there is a lot going on, where there's a lot of background noise," says Frisina. "The most obvious situation is a party where a lot of people are talking, and you're trying to listen to one particular person. It's as if the aging process, when it comes to their ability to hear, was accelerated in these women.

"Our findings raise concerns. Women should talk to their doctors before making any decisions. And certainly, the findings call for more extensive studies."

Frisina is part of the world's foremost group on age-related hearing loss, a group currently funded with a five-year, $6.3-million grant from the National Institutes of Health. The group has been continually funded through five-year grants from NIH since 1993 and draws upon extensive research on human hearing, at RIT, with expertise in neuroscience from the University of Rochester.

Other scientists have previously linked HRT to increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and dementia. The Rochester team presented the new results in a poster in Daytona and will submit their findings to a journal for publication.

The work was presented in Daytona by researcher Patrici
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Contact: Tom Rickey
trickey@admin.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
24-Feb-2004


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