A recent study has
suggested that consuming vitamin D can actually have a beneficial effect on the
lung, especially in smokers.
Vitamin D deficiency
has always been linked to a steady decline in lung function in smokers.
According to a group of researchers from Boston, vitamin D can actually play a
protective role and safeguard the lung from the harmful effects of smoking.
Lead author Nancy E.
Lange, MD, MPH, of the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital said,
"We examined the relationship between vitamin D deficiency, smoking, lung
function, and the rate of lung function decline over a 20 year period in a
cohort of 626 adult white men from the Normative Aging Study." "We found that vitamin D sufficiency
(defined as serum vitamin D levels of >20 ng/ml) had a protective effect on
lung function and the rate of lung function decline in smokers"
The findings were
published online in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and
Critical Care Medicine
During the study,
vitamin D levels were evaluated three times between 1984 and 2003, and the lung
function was assessed using spirometry.
In subjects who were
vitamin D deficient, for each one unit increase in pack-years of tobacco
smoking, mean forced expiratory volume for one second (FEV1) was 12 ml lower,
in comparison to the mean reduction of 6.5 ml among non- vitamin D deficient
subjects. Interestingly, no significant effect of vitamin D levels on lung
function, or its decline, was observed in the overall study cohort involving
smokers and non-smokers.
These results show that
vitamin D might modify the damaging effects of smoking on lung function and
this may be due to the vitamin's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
The study has some
limitations, in that the data is observational and not a trial; besides, the
study was carried out on elderly men.
"If these results
can be replicated in other studies, they could be of great public health
importance," Dr. Lange remarked. "Future research should also examine
whether vitamin D protects against lung damage from other sources, such as air
pollution," she suggested.
However, smokers must never get carried away by all this information as
the harmful effects of smoking far outweighs the benefit that vitamin D might
have. It would be better for them to be informed of all the harmful effects of
smoking and to take necessary steps to counter the habit.