The study was based on data reported by female nurses. Credit: Getty Images
Drink a lot of coffee? It could be protecting you from a common — and annoying — medical issue.
A new study linked caffeine with fewer cases of tinnitus, that annoying ringing or buzzing in the ears, among female nurses. The cause of tinnitus is unclear, and so is the reason why caffeine would lower one’s risk of developing the condition, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
But it does go against a basic guideline for avoiding tinnitus.
“In the ear, nose and throat literature and textbooks they often tell people with tinnitus to avoid caffeine because it can make tinnitus worse, but there really wasn’t great data to even support that,” said Dr. Gary Curhan, senior author of the new study.
The researchers analyzed data on more than 65,000 female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II, which involved filling out dietary questionnaires every four years since 1991. In 2009, 5,289 women reported having tinnitus symptoms. On average, the women consumed about 242 milligrams of caffeine per day, which is equal to about three 8-ounce cups of coffee.
The incidence was 15 percent lower among women who consumed 450 to 599 mg/day of caffeine (6-8 cups of coffee) when compared to the women who consumed less than 150 mg/day (about a half a cup).