For women with tinnitus, a ringing in their ears, coffee may help. (Unless, of course, the woman is in line at Starbucks for her daily dose. In which case that ringing is probably the cell phone of the dude behind her.)
New research from Brigham and Women’s hospital finds that higher caffeine intake is associated with a lower risk of tinnitus in younger and middle-aged women.
One in five people is affected by tinnitus, according to the Mayo Clinic. With the condition, people hear phantom noises like ringing, buzzing, roaring, clicking and hissing. The noise may vary in pitch from a low roar to a high squeal. In some cases it can be so loud it interferes with the ability to concentrate or hear actual sounds.
The study followed more than 65,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II, including women 30 to 44 years of age. They gathered information about symptoms and dates from questionnaires the women completed about their lifestyle and medical history. After 18 years of follow up, researchers identified 5,289 cases of tinnitus.
“We observed a significant inverse association between caffeine intake and the incidence of tinnitus among these women,” Cary Curhan, MD, ScD, senior author of the paper and a physician-researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH and Professor of Medicine at Harvard University said in a BWH press release. The research was noted on foodconsumer.org.
Compared to women who drank less than one and a half eight-ounce cups of coffee (150 mg) a day, the incidence of reported tinnitus was 15 percent lower among those women who consumed 450- 599 mg of caffeine a day.
Researchers are unclear why caffeine has this effect. A recent Cornell University study has, however, helped explain how coffee may help protect retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, aging and diabetes. Those researchers believe the protective powers come from the cholorogenic acid, a potent antioxidant, in your cup of joe.