Over 43 years ago, Dr. Sanders T. Frank wrote an article to the New England Journal of Medicine about a strange connection between your ears and your heart. He said that your earlobe can tell you how high your risk of coronary artery disease is.
Apparently, Dr. Frank noticed that a "normal" earlobe is smooth. But an earlobe with a crease (a fold, straight line, or wrinkle that appears to cut the earlobe in half) indicates you may have diseased arteries. Over time, this crease developed the name "Frank's sign" after the letter writer.
In the years since the NEJM published the letter, some studies have shown that Dr. Frank was onto something. Some of them even found a strong correlation. However, others say the correlation isn't always true. It could be an ethnic issue, as it seems to hold true more often for white people than Asians or Hawaiians (two of the studies that didn't find a correlation). But it's quite possible these two ethnic groups have something in their diet that protects their heart.
You see, there's a much bigger connection between your ears and your heart than the crease in your earlobe and the fact that the word "heart" has the word "ear" and the word "hear" in it. This connection suggests that if you're losing your hearing, you might want to make sure your heart is in good shape.
We've known for some time that high homocysteine levels are one factor that's common with heart disease and heart attacks. I've made the argument in the past that it's quite possible the homocysteine isn't a cause of heart attacks, but could be the body's way of trying to prevent the attack. No one has proved that homocysteine is a cause of heart problems. They've only proved an association — it's present when heart problems occur, but we don't know if it caused the heart problem.
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Well, other studies have shown that high homocysteine levels are also associated with age-related hearing loss. The higher your homocysteine levels, the more likely you are to suffer hearing loss. Again, we don't know for sure if the high homocysteine levels are a cause of the hearing loss or simply the body's way of trying to prevent the hearing loss. If the body uses homocysteine to heal, then it would make sense that it's elevated.
Regardless, we know that high homocysteine levels are a signal that something could be wrong with both your hearing and your heart. What's great about this is there's an easy way to reduce the homocysteine and protect both your heart and your hearing. Researchers are finally coming around to agree that nutritional imbalances can cause hearing loss. In fact, they're finding significant evidence that taking supplements can help you avoid losing your hearing. The most recent study looked at epidemiologic studies and found that one nutrient in particular can help stop hearing loss.
The researchers in this study knew that a substantial number of epidemiologic studies linked hearing loss to high homocysteine levels and low levels of folate. They also knew that taking folate in supplement form both lowered homocysteine levels and improved age-related hearing loss. So they wanted to see what impact taking a folate supplement would have on hearing loss.
The researchers said, "Altogether, our findings demonstrate, for the first time, that the relationship between hyperhomocysteinemia induced by folate deficiency and premature hearing loss involves impairment of cochlear Hcy metabolism and associated oxidative stress." In other words, a folate deficiency can increase your homocysteine and cause damage to the auditory portion of your inner ear.
So if you're losing your hearing, whether you have a crease in your earlobe or not, it would be a good idea to have your homocysteine levels checked. If they're high, you'll want to start taking folic acid right away. You can find folic acid and other great nutrients to protect your hearing (and your heart) in Advanced Hearing Formula.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND