Pears May Protect Lungs
YORK (Reuters Health) - Apples, pears and other fruits rich in
certain plant compounds may help protect the lungs from chronic
disease, researchers in the Netherlands have found. They suspect
the benefit might come from catechins, one of a large group of
plant compounds called flavonoids that has already been linked
to a lower risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
have been found to act as cell-protecting antioxidants, and some
research suggests antioxidants may guard against lung disease.
one study has suggested that ``solid fruits,'' including apples
and pears, help protect the lungs due to their high flavonoid
content, according to investigators led by Cora Tabak of the National
Institute of Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven.
study the possibility, Tabak's team analyzed data on nearly 14,000
adults in a study on risk factors for chronic disease. They looked
at the relationship between intake of different flavonoids and
symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), such
as chronic coughing and breathlessness. COPD includes two serious
lung diseases--chronic bronchitis and emphysema--for which cigarette
smoking is the biggest risk factor.
found that people with higher catechin intakes had a lower risk
of chronic cough and breathlessness, even after smoking, age,
body mass and other factors were considered. Two other groups
of flavonoids--flavonols and flavones--were associated with a
lower risk of chronic cough only.
a strong risk factor for COPD symptoms, independent of any dietary
effects, the authors note in the July issue of the American Journal
of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The main catechin
sources for the study participants were tea and apples. Tea was
also the biggest source of the other flavonoids studied. Yet when
the researchers looked at tea alone, they found no relationship
between higher consumption and lower lung disease risk.
On the other
hand, greater intake of solid fruits, such as apples and pears,
was linked to healthier lung function.
study on intake of catechins, flavonols, and flavones in relation
to COPD suggests a beneficial effect of a high intake of catechins,''
Tabak and colleagues conclude.
authors note, the lack of a relationship between lung disease
and intake of tea and flavonoids other than catechins is puzzling.
This suggests that catechins may not on their own lead to better
lung function, the investigators acknowledge. They call for further
research to confirm their findings and to delve deeper into the
biological workings of various flavonoids.
In the study,
participants gave dietary information for the previous year, answered
questions on chronic respiratory symptoms, and had their lung
function tested. They were split into five groups based on their
various flavonoid intakes. In the group with the highest catechin
intake, half of the participants consumed more than 20 milligrams
of the substance each day. According to the researchers, there
are about 15 milligrams of catechins in two apples.
American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Reference Source 89