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Poor Diet May Make COPD Worse, Study Finds

TUESDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Certain vitamin deficiencies may lead to decreased lung function in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, says a new study.

For the study, 20 COPD patients (13 women, seven men) completed a questionnaire to assess their dietary intake of vitamins A, C, D, E and selenium, all of which contain cell-protecting antioxidants. A diet low in antioxidants -- as compared to national dietary intake requirements -- was common among the patients.

The percentages of deficiencies were: 25 percent (selenium), 45 percent (vitamin C), 90 percent (vitamin E), 55 percent (vitamin A), and 70 percent (vitamin D).

The researchers then measured the maximum amount of air the patients could exhale with force. All the patients with a selenium-deficient diet had decreased lung function. Among patients deficient in vitamins C, A, and D, only men had decreased lung function.

The study was to be presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) in Vancouver, Canada.

"Our study, along with other research, suggests that strategies for dietary modification and supplementation should be considered in patients with COPD," Dr. M. Salman Khan of Akron City Hospital, Ohio, said in an ACCP news release.

"Further studies are needed to clarify the role gender has on the loss of lung function in COPD and the impact of antioxidant nutrient intake," Khan said.

Khan added that antioxidants might also benefit people with severe asthma.

"We would guess that the role of antioxidant nutrients in a well-controlled asthma patient would be less than that seen in patients with COPD," Khan said. "However, in patients with severe asthma with poorly controlled symptoms and frequent, recurring exacerbations, antioxidant nutrient intake may indeed play an important role in the preservation of lung function."

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in America, with 119,000 deaths annually, according to the ACCP.

More information

The American Association for Respiratory Care offers tips for living well with COPD.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Chest Physicians, news release, Nov. 2, 2010

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