M D Machado-Fragua et al, 2020. Coffee consumption and risk of hearing impairment in men and women, Clinical Nutrition, published online.

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Hearing loss is the fifth leading cause of disability in the world. Coffee consumption might have a beneficial effect on hearing function because of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of some of its compounds. However, no previous longitudinal study has assessed the association between coffee consumption and the risk of hearing impairment.

To assess the prospective association between coffee consumption and risk of disabling hearing impairment in middle and older men and women from the UK Biobank study.

Analytical cohort with 36,923 participants (16,142 men and 20,781 women) [mean (SD): 56.6 (7.8) years, 1.6 (1.4) cups/d, and -7.6 (1.3) dB for age, total coffee consumption and speech reception threshold in noise at baseline, respectively]. At baseline, coffee consumption was measured with 3-5 multiple-pass 24-h food records. Hearing function was measured with a digit triplet test, and disabling hearing impairment was defined as a speech reception threshold in noise > -3.5 dB in any physical exam during the follow-up. Analyses were stratified by sex and Cox regression models were used to assess the prospective association proposed.

Over 10 years of follow-up, 343 men and 345 women developed disabling hearing impairment. Among men, compared with those who consumed <1 cup/d of coffee, those who consumed 1, and ≥2 cups/d had a lower risk of hearing impairment (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval]: 0.72 [0.54-0.97] and 0.72 [0.56-0.92], respectively; P-trend: 0.01). This association was similar for caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee, and for filtered and non-filtered coffee, and was stronger in those with obesity (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval] for consumption of ≥2 vs. <1 cups/d: 0.39 [0.21-0.74]). No association was found between coffee and hearing function among women.

Coffee consumption was associated with lower risk of disabling hearing impairment in men but not in women. The association appeared to be independent of the coffee type and the preparation method.

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