Eating Fruits and Vegetables Associated with Reduced Risk of COPD

Eating Fruits and Vegetables Reduces Chances of COPD in Smokers and Ex-smokers

Background: Oxidative stress due to smoking cigarettes is a recognized as a major factor in the development of COPD. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may protect the lung from damage and thereby prevent, or at least reduce the risk, of someone “getting” COPD. Study: Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, analyzed information in over 44,ooo men living in Sweden who had no history of having COPD at the start of the study. Fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed with a questionnaire. Subjects were followed for an average of 13 years. The study was published on-line in the journal Thorax in 2017. Results: During the study period, 1,918 men were diagnosed with COPD. There was a strong inverse (opposite effect) association between total consumption of fruits and vegetables and COPD.  Each serving per day of eating fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of COPD by 8% in current smokers and by 4% in former smokers.
Eating fruits and vegetables have anti-inflammatory effects.


Eating fruits and vegetables is healthy.

Fruits and vegetables

          Conclusions: The findings indicate that high consumption of fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of COPD in both smokers and ex-smokers. 


My Comments: There is emerging evidence that diet can play an important role in the development of COPD. For example, a “heart healthy” diet – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereals, and fish – is associated with a lower risk of impaired lung function and COPD compared with a “Western diet” – high consumption of white bread, processed meats, high fat dairy products, sugar, and chips. In general, there are many health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. These foods contain various anti-oxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that are healthy for our bodies. This new study provides further evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing COPD if you still smoke and if you have already quit.

Donald A. Mahler, M.D. is Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. He works as a pulmonary physician at Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, NH, where he is Director of Respiratory Services.