Vitamins C and E and Risk of COPD

Benefits of Vitamins C and E on COPD Risk and Lung Function in Men

Study: Joshi and colleagues reported on the effects of vitamins on the risk of developing COPD and changes in lung function in those living in South Korea. The results were published in the October 2015 issue of the International Journal of COPD (volume 10; pages 2159 – 2168).

The analysis included 6,781 individuals considered “at risk” for developing COPD as well as 325 individuals with COPD. Diet was estimated from a questionnaire on food intake. The overall analysis included consideration of age, sex, married or single, income, history of asthma, and smoking.

Results: The risk of “getting” COPD was related to age, low education, low income, low weight, and cigarette smoking. However, the risk of COPD decreased with the increase of taking vitamins C and E, mainly in men. In addition, breathing tests (lung function) were improved with greater intake of vitamins C and E.

oranges - good source of vitamin C

oranges – good source of vitamin C

My Comment: This study suggests that men with COPD may benefit by taking vitamins C and E. Both vitamin C and E are antioxidants -which reduce break down (destruction) of cells in the body and are considered to fight aging (anti-aging). Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits (especially oranges), sweet peppers, broccoli, and soybeans; good sources of vitamin E are nuts, fortified cereals, and sweet potatoes.

Caution:  Too much vitamin E may increase the risk of prostate cancer and stroke.

What needs to be done? To further examine the benefits of vitamins C and E, it will be important to do an intervention study. This means that some individuals would either eat foods rich in these vitamins or else take vitamin pills while other individuals would follow their normal diet. However, it is unlikely such a study will be done because of expense and long-term follow-up required.

As always, you may wish to discuss these findings with your health care provider.