Fruit fiber may help protect against second-hand smoke effects
September 1, 2005
A new study finds early life exposure to second-hand
smoke can produce life-long respiratory problems. The
study of 35,000 adult non-smokers in Singapore found
that those who lived with a smoker during childhood
had more respiratory problems, including chronic cough.
Study participants who reported eating more fruit and
soy fiber as adults seemed to be protected against some
of the negative health effects often associated with
early tobacco exposure.
This research adds to a growing body of evidence that
exposure to second-hand smoke early in life has health
consequences that can last a lifetime, said Dr. David
Schwartz, Director of the NIEHS. In addition to finding
ways to reduce the exposure of children to tobacco smoke
and other environmental pollutants, we also need to
look for ways to reduce the disease burden.
Chronic cough was defined as occurring on most days for at least three months of the year and lasting more than two years in a row. More than 45 percent of the study participants reported having fathers who smoked, and 19 percent reported having mothers who smoked. The researchers found that more smokers in the home during childhood, was linked to a greater incidence of chronic cough, and chronic phlegm.
Because we had previously found in this Singaporean population data suggesting that a diet high in fruit and soy fiber may reduce the incidence of chronic respiratory symptoms, we decided to study the impact of fiber on problems associated with early tobacco exposure, said NIEHS researcher Stephanie London, M.D. We actually found that people who ate even a small amount of fruit fiber had less chronic cough related to environmental tobacco smoke.
Study participants who ate more than 7.5 grams of fiber each day had fewer health effects associated with ETS. This is equivalent to eating about two apples a day. Dr. London pointed out that the average weight of the Singapore study participants was 127 lbs. She also added that most Singaporeans get their fiber from fruits, vegetables and soy.
Fiber may have beneficial effects on the lung, said Dr. London. It seems to have the ability to reduce blood glucose concentrations, reduce inflammation, and enhance antioxidant processes. All of these may help to protect the lung against environmental insults, such as ETS in childhood. However, the possible benefits of fiber should not lessen the importance of reducing exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.
NIEHS, a component of the National Institutes of Health, supports research to understand the effects of the environment on human health. For more information about environmental tobacco smoke and other environmental health topics, please visit our website at http://www.niehs.nih.gov/.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — is comprised of 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.
This is a NIH news release. The original version appears here
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