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Health study links women's obesity to hearing loss

PHOENIX -- A new study said hearing may be tied to weight, but to a Valley doctor it sounds doubtful.

According to the Harvard Nurses Health Study, obese women are 25 percent more likely to report hearing loss than those who aren't.

The findings were published in the December issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Gail Padish Clarin, an audiology director for Banner Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, questioned the results. None of the women who were tracked were given a hearing test.

Some 68,000 women participated in the study from 1989 to 2009. At the end of the study, they were asked if they suffered any hearing loss and at what age it happened.

"Instead of completing tests to confirm if there is hearing loss, and the type and degree of the loss, they simply asked the patients if they had any hearing loss, and then asked the patients what their degree of hearing loss was," Clarin said.

"That's like me asking you to estimate your cholesterol levels (without doing any other testing). It's like pulling it out of a hat."

While the study did not prove that obesity directly harmed hearing, Clarin said it can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, and other problems that can cause hearing loss. She believed that more study that includes hearing tests is needed.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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