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Med diet cuts lung cancer risk 'by half'

Tuesday, 15 May 2007 08:06

Diets rich in fruit, fish and vegetables can boost lung health

Researchers from the Harvard school of public health found that the beneficial effect of the diet targets COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), an umbrella term for chronic progressive lung disease, such as emphysema and bronchitis.

Largely developed through cigarette smoking, COPD is expected to be the third leading cause of death by 2020.

In the study, researchers tracked the health of 43,000 men who were already part of the US Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).

This took place from 1986 and involved questionnaires every two years on their diet, lifestyle and medical history.

Eating patterns were divided into two categories: the first, a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fish (Mediterranean); and the second, a diet rich in processed foods, refined sugars and cured and red meats (western).

Between 1986 and 1998, 11 cases of COPD were newly diagnosed.

The Mediterranean diet was associated with a 50 per cent lower risk of developing COPD than the western diet, even after smoking, age and other factors were taken into consideration.

Men who ate a predominantly western diet were found to be four times more likely to develop COPD.

"In men, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish may reduce the risk of COPD whereas a diet rich in refined grains, cured and red meats, desserts and French fries may increase the risk of COPD," the researchers argue.

The study is published in the journal Thorax.

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