Osteoporosis International

, Volume 16, Issue 12, pp 1675–1682 | Cite as

Hearing sensitivity and bone mineral density in older adults: the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study

  • Elizabeth P. Helzner
  • Jane A. Cauley
  • Sheila R. Pratt
  • Steven R. Wisniewski
  • Evelyn O. Talbott
  • Joseph M. Zmuda
  • Tamara B. Harris
  • Susan M. Rubin
  • Dennis R. Taaffe
  • Frances A. Tylavsky
  • Anne B. Newman
Original Article


Bone mineral density (BMD) may be associated with hearing loss in older adults. Demineralization of the cochlear capsule has been associated with hearing loss in those with Paget’s disease of the bone and otosclerosis. Osteoporosis may also result in cochlear capsule demineralization. We hypothesized that lower hip BMD and lower heel ultrasound measurements would be associated with hearing loss in a population-based sample of 2,089 older black and white men and women. Bone parameters and hearing function were measured at the fourth clinical follow-up visit. Audiometric threshold testing was used to measure air- and bone-conduction hearing sensitivity. BMD of the hip and its subregions was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Calcaneal bone measurements [broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA), speed of sound (SOS) and the quantitative ultrasound index (QUI)] were obtained using heel ultrasound. After adjusting for known hearing loss risk factors, no association was found between hearing and any of the bone measurements in whites and black women. In black men, however, lower hip BMD was associated with higher odds of hearing loss; for each standard deviation decrease in total hip BMD, the odds of hearing loss were 1.41 (95% confidence interval 1.08, 1.83), 1.39 (95% CI 1.07, 1.82) for femoral neck BMD and 1.65 (95% CI 1.26, 2.16) for trochanter BMD. Conductive hearing loss was associated with lower heel ultrasound measurements, though only among white men. The results of this study are mixed and inconclusive. Lower BMD of the hip and its subregions was associated with hearing loss among black men, but not among whites or black women. Lower measurements on heel ultrasound were associated with conductive hearing loss, though only among white men. These results suggest that axial and appendicular bone parameters may be modestly associated with hearing loss in older men, but not in women.


Bone mineral density Hearing sensitivity Older adults 



The Health Aging and Body Composition Study (Health ABC) is supported by the National Institutes of Health grant nos. N01-AG-6–2106, N01-AG-6–2101 and N01-AG-6–2103.


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Copyright information

© International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth P. Helzner
    • 1
  • Jane A. Cauley
    • 1
  • Sheila R. Pratt
    • 2
  • Steven R. Wisniewski
    • 1
  • Evelyn O. Talbott
    • 1
  • Joseph M. Zmuda
    • 1
  • Tamara B. Harris
    • 3
  • Susan M. Rubin
    • 4
  • Dennis R. Taaffe
    • 5
  • Frances A. Tylavsky
    • 6
  • Anne B. Newman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of Communication Science and DisordersUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry ProgramNational Institute on Aging, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  4. 4.Prevention Sciences GroupUniversity of California at San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.School of Human Movement StudiesThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Department of Preventative MedicineUniversity of TennesseeMemphisUSA

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