The largest study ever to analyze the hearing of women on hormone-replacement therapy has found that women who take the most common form of HRT have a hearing loss of 10 to 30 percent more compared to similar women who have not had the therapy. The results are being published on-line this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It's as if the usual age-related hearing loss in women whose HRT included progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, was accelerated compared to women taking estrogen alone or women not taking HRT. On average, women who received progestin had the hearing of women five to 10 years older.
The results of the study involving 124 women confirm results from a smaller study that the same group reported in 2004 at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. The new results also identify progestin as the component of HRT doing possible damage.
"Whether a woman goes on HRT is certainly her decision, and she should discuss the options with her doctor," says senior author Robert D. Frisina, Ph.D. "In light of these findings, we feel that hearing loss should be added to the list of negative things to keep in mind when talking about HRT. Women especially who already have a hearing problem should weigh this decision carefully. Women on HRT should consider having a thorough hearing check-up done every six months."
Frisina is part of one of the world's leading groups in hearing research, the International Center for Hearing and Speech Research (ICHSR), which includes scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. The center, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is a collaboration of two leading groups of scientists just down the road from each other: scientists at RIT/NTID who have extensive experience with research with people, and their counterparts
Contact: Tom Rickey
University of Rochester Medical Center