London: High daily intake of fruits such as apples and pears as well as green leafy vegetables may lower the risk of developing chronic lung disease in smokers, a new study has found.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes respiratory conditions that narrow the airways, such as bronchitis and emphysema. The primary risk factor for developing COPD is smoking, and the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicts that it is set to become the third leading cause of death worldwide.
Researchers from Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden tracked the respiratory health of more than 44,000 men aged between 45 and 79 for 13 years up to the end of the year 2012. Sample was taken from men who had been born between 1918 and 1952 in Sweden, asking them about how often they consumed 96 different food items in 1997, at the start of the study.
The participants were asked how many cigarettes they smoked daily, on average, between the ages of 15-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, and 51-60. They were also quizzed about other important factors, such as educational attainment, weight, height, physical activity and inactivity levels and how much, and how often, they consumed alcohol.
Nearly 63 per cent had smoked at some point, around 24 per cent were current smokers and nearly 38 per cent had never smoked, researchers said. Those eating five or more daily servings were 35 per cent less likely to develop lung disease than those eating two or fewer daily servings, they said. Each additional daily serving was associated with a four to eight per cent lower risk.
"As oxidative tissue stress and inflammation may be involved in COPD development, and smoking is a potent trigger of these processes, the antioxidants abundant in fruit and vegetables may curb their impact," researchers said. The study was published in the journal Thorax.