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Vitamin E Intake Associated With Lower Levels of Lung Disease

A study published in the April 2001 edition of Thorax shows that vitamin E reduces the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in women over 45. The study was conducted by researchers at Cornell University's Division of Nutritional Sciences.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the US and causes shortness of breath, wheezing, mucus, and chest tightness. Its most common cause is cigarette smoking.

The Cornell researchers analyzed data from the Women’s Health Study, a randomized, placebo-controlled study that ended in 2004. The 38,597 women in the study were given either a dose of 600 IU vitamin E supplement plus 100 mg of aspirin every other day, or they were given a placebo for three years.

A special model was used to determine the effect of just the vitamin E supplementation on the risk of COPD. During 10 years of follow-up, , researchers recorded 760 new cases of COPD in the vitamin E group and 846 new cases in the placebo group, a 10% difference. The results were not affected by the smoking status of the participants.

The researchers believe that the oxidant/antioxidant balance in lung tissue contributes to the risk of COPD. This is based on the findings of previous studies that have shown that high antioxidant status is associated with lower risk of COPD.

Vitamin E has also been associated with many other health benefits, including lower cholesterol, healthier skin, and maintaining a proper hormonal balance. Vitamin E can be found in foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds and other nuts, dried herbs, and dried apricots. High quality supplements are also a good source of this essential vitamin.

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