Ringing praise for Shapiro prize winner
1 October 2011
Dr Lindsay St Claire, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies, has been awarded the Marie & Jack Shapiro prize 2011 for her research into the potential link between caffeine and tinnitus.
The award was made to Dr St Claire, as in the judgment of the BTA - her work was: “The piece of research by a UK based author most likely to result in improved treatment or public awareness of tinnitus that was published in the last calendar year.”
“Deafness Research UK welcomes the news that Dr Lindsay St Claire won the prestigious Marie & Jack Shapiro prize for her team’s research into tinnitus,” said Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK. “This is an excellent example of groundbreaking research supported by Deafness Research UK that is having a real impact on people’s lives and we are pleased to see Dr St Claire’s work recognised in this way.”
Dr St Claire’s pioneering research has found that giving up caffeine does not relieve tinnitus (a loud ringing or buzzing in the ears) and that acute caffeine withdrawal might actually increase the symptoms.
The study was undertaken by Dr St Claire’s team at the Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies at the University of Bristol and comes at a time of increasing awareness of this debilitating condition and its impact upon thousands of sufferers throughout the UK.
It is estimated that over seven million people in the UK are affected by tinnitus and while three million people have consulted their GP with the condition, there is much anecdotal evidence to show that many choose to ignore it and don’t seek a diagnosis from their GP, yet the symptoms can be an early warning of more serious conditions. For the half a million people for whom the symptoms are severe, the condition can have a massive effect on everyday life, causing lack of sleep, problems with concentrating at work and even problems in personal relationships.
“This sort of research is always a group effort, and all the team at the Hearing Centre is delighted to have been presented with such a prestigious award, “ said Dr Lindsay St Claire. “While this research points to no casual link between caffeine and tinnitus, many other dietary restrictions are claimed to alleviate the condition, but without the benefit of such controlled studies. Further work in this area would be of great benefit to both people with tinnitus and clinicians.”
Further informationSt Claire L, Stothart G, McKenna L, Rogers P: ‘Caffeine abstinence: an ineffective and potentially distressing tinnitus therapy’. International Journal of Audiology, January 2010, Vol 49, No 1, Pages 24-29.
The 16-month study was funded by a £55,000 grant from Deafness Research UK.
The Marie and Jack Shapiro Prize is awarded by the British Tinnitus Association, a world leader providing support and advice about tinnitus and this is not the first time that the BTA and Deafness Research UK have both highlighted the work of key researchers in the field. The £250 prize, now in its sixth year, is given in memory of the late Jack Shapiro, the founder of the BTA who passed away in 2010. The prize was created to encourage and stimulate researcher activity and highlight efforts in the field of tinnitus research.
For many years there has been a commonly held belief that caffeine is a major aggravator of tinnitus symptoms, and for the over half a million in Britain suffering from tinnitus, this research provides some of the first evidence to challenge the theory that caffeine triggers or aggravates tinnitus.
Tinnitus affects nearly 15 per cent of adults in the UK at any one time and caffeine is consumed daily by approximately 85 per cent of adults globally.