First published: 24 May 2021
Osteoporosis and low bone density (LBD) may be associated with higher risk of hearing loss, but findings are inconsistent and longitudinal data are scarce. Bisphosphonates may influence risk, but the relation has not been studied in humans. We longitudinally investigated associations of osteoporosis and LBD, bisphosphonate use, vertebral fracture (VF), hip fracture (HF), and risk of self-reported moderate or worse hearing loss.
Longitudinal cohort study.
The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) (1982–2016) and Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II) (1995–2017).
Participants included 60,821 NHS women, aged 36–61 years at baseline, and 83,078 NHS II women, aged 31–48 years at baseline (total n = 143,899).
Information on osteoporosis, LBD, bisphosphonate use, VF, HF, and hearing status was obtained from validated biennial questionnaires. In a subcohort (n = 3749), objective hearing thresholds were obtained by audiometry. Multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models were used to examine independent associations between osteoporosis (NHS), osteoporosis/LBD (NHS II), and risk of hearing loss.
The multivariable-adjusted relative risk (MVRR, 95% confidence interval) of moderate or worse hearing loss was higher among women with osteoporosis or LBD in both cohorts. In NHS, compared with women without osteoporosis, the MVRR was 1.14 (1.09, 1.19) among women with osteoporosis; in NHS II, the MVRR was 1.30 (1.21, 1.40) among women with osteoporosis/LBD. The magnitude of the elevated risk was similar among women who did and did not use bisphosphonates. VF was associated with higher risk (NHS: 1.31 [1.16, 1.49]; NHS II: 1.39 [1.13, 1.71]), but HF was not (NHS: 1.00 [0.86, 1.16];NHS II: 1.15 [0.75,1.74]). Among participants with audiometric measurements, compared with women without osteoporosis/LBD, the mean multivariable-adjusted hearing thresholds were higher (i.e., worse) among those with osteoporosis/LBD who used bisphosphonates.
Osteoporosis and LBD may be important contributors to aging-related hearing loss. Among women with osteoporosis, the risk of hearing loss was not influenced by bisphosphonate use.