12 January - 20 June 2016

Healthy diet linked to lower risk of chronic lung disease

12 February 2015

A diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats and long chain omega-3 fats has long been associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. However a recent study published in the British Medical Journal indicates it may also provide a lower risk of chronic lung disease (e.g. emphysema and bronchitis), currently ranked as the third leading cause of death worldwide.  

Most commonly associated with smoking, a third of lung disease cases develop in people who have never smoked, and this recent study indicates that diet may also be a major factor.  The diet of more than 120,000 participants (from the US Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study) was monitored and ranked using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index 2010 (AHEI-2010), taking into account intake of vegetables, whole grains and ‘good’ fats, but also alcohol consumption and levels of red and processed meats, refined grains and sugary drinks; a high score indicating a better diet.  

It was found that those achieving the highest AHEI-2010 score were up to a third less likely to contract chronic lung disease than those participants who had the lowest AHEI-2010 score, with similar results found in both men and women and smokers, as well as current and previous smokers.  No link between diet and incidents of asthma was reported.  Despite the findings of the study, the authors were keen to remind readers that smoking cessation is the most important step in preventing reducing the risk of chronic lung disease.

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