(HealthDay News) – Higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are positively associated, and physical activity is inversely associated, with the risk of self-reported hearing loss, according to a study published in the December issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Sharon G. Curhan, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues assessed the independent correlations between BMI, waist circumference, and physical activity with self-reported hearing loss in a cohort of 68,421 women from the Nurses’ Health Study II from 1989–2009.

After >1.1 million person-years of follow-up, the researchers identified 11,286 cases of self-reported hearing loss. The risk of hearing loss was increased with higher BMI and larger waist circumference. The multivariate adjusted relative risk for hearing loss was 1.25 for women with a BMI ≥40kg/m² vs. <25kg/m². For women with a waist circumference of >88cm vs. <71cm, the multivariate-adjusted relative risk was 1.27. There was an inverse association between physical activity and risk, with a multivariate-adjusted relative risk of 0.83 for women in the highest vs. the lowest quintile of physical activity. There was an inverse association between walking two or more hours per week and risk. The associations were slightly attenuated after simultaneous adjustment for BMI, waist circumference, and physical activity, but remained statistically significant.

“These findings provide evidence that maintaining healthy weight and staying physically active, potentially modifiable lifestyle factors, may help reduce the risk of hearing loss,” the authors write.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)