A cheesy attempt at improving our hearing
IT MIGHT sound crackers, but cheese could hold the secret to better hearing.
Scientists believe that it contains a chemical compound that could prevent or cure deafness caused by exposure to loud noise.
In animals, D-methionine has been found to help protect against – and even reverse – damage to nerve cells in the ear.
It is to be tested on 600 humans, taken from the US Army. The study will find out if the compound, which is also found in yoghurt, protects the soldiers from permanent hearing damage caused by the noise of gunfire.
Exposure to loud sounds can damage hair-like nerve cells in the cochlea, a spiral-shaped part of the inner ear which helps send sound signals to the brain.
One theory is that the noise triggers the release of damaging chemicals called free radicals, which can be neutralised by D-methionine, an amino acid. Other research has shown that the chemical can even reverse hearing loss if given within seven hours of exposure to loud noise. No drugs are currently available that can achieve the same effect.
In the army trial, some recruits will take the compound in a drink after their weapons training, and others will take a placebo. All will have their hearing tested several days later.
Doctors carrying out the clinical trial said: “We have documented in animal studies that administration of D-methionine can reduce or prevent noise-induced hearing loss. We now need to determine if it has similar efficacy in humans.”
But you would have to eat an awful lot of cheese to get a benefit. The quantity of D-methionine given to soldiers is the same as would be found in 2.3kg of cheese.
Maybe it would be better protection against loud noise if you just stuffed it in your ears.