J T Glicksman et al, 2014, A prospective study of caffeine intake and risk of incident tinnitus, The American Journal of Medicine, published online ahead of print.

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Background: Caffeine is a commonly consumed substance that has long been thought to play a role in the development of tinnitus, but prospective data are lacking. We prospectively evaluated the association between caffeine intake and self-reported tinnitus in a female cohort.

Methods: Participants were 65,085 women in the Nurse’s Health Study II, aged 30-44 years and

without tinnitus at baseline in 1991, who completed questionnaires about lifestyle and medical history every two years and food frequency questionnaires every four years.

Information on self-reported tinnitus and date of onset was obtained from the 2009 questionnaire, with cases defined as those reporting experiencing symptoms “a few days/week” or “daily.” Multivariable adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression models.

Results: At baseline the mean age of the cohort was 36.3 years and the mean caffeine intake was 242.3 mg/day. After 18 years of follow-up, 5,289 incident cases of tinnitus were reported. There was a significant inverse association between caffeine intake and the incidence of tinnitus. Compared with women with caffeine intake less than 150 mg/day (150 mg corresponds to approximately one 8 ounce cup of coffee), the multivariable adjusted hazard ratios were 0.85 (95% CI 0.76-0.95) for those who consumed 450-599 mg/day and 0.79 (0.68-0.91) for those who consumed 600mg/day or more.

Conclusion: In this prospective study higher caffeine intake was associated with a lower risk of incident tinnitus in women.

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