Editorials

Nutrition and lung health

BMJ 1995; 310 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.310.6972.75 (Published 14 January 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;310:75
  1. M K Sridhar
  1. Research fellow Departments of Human Nutrition and Respiratory Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G31 2ER

    Should people at risk of chronic obstructive lung disease eat more fruit and vegetables?

    In striking contrast to the relation between diet and cardiovascular disease, the relation between diet and lung disease has not received much attention. Standard texts on nutrition make little or no reference to the respiratory system.1 Two reasons help to explain this relative neglect. Firstly, the most common fatal diseases of the respiratory system—lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—are so clearly related to tobacco smoking that other factors have had little scrutiny. Secondly, even in those respiratory diseases in which nutrition is believed to play an important part (for example, cystic fibrosis and emphysema), the relation between nutrition and the disease is not directly causal. This has made investigation of the place of nutrition in the pathological process unattractive. Interesting new evidence is, however, beginning to emerge from sources as varied as molecular biology laboratories and epidemiological units. This suggests that a relation may exist between intake of certain dietary elements and lung disease—and that the links may have a practical importance.

    In 1990 an analysis of data from a representative sample of adults in the United States suggested that a high dietary intake and a raised serum concentration of vitamin C had a protective effect …

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