Vitamin D may protect against lung function impairment and decline in smokers

July 20, 2012, American Thoracic Society

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with worse lung function and more rapid decline in lung function over time in smokers, suggesting that vitamin D may have a protective effect against the effects of smoking on lung function, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.

"We examined the relationship between , smoking, , and the rate of lung function decline over a 20 year period in a cohort of 626 adult from the Normative Aging Study," said lead author Nancy E. Lange, MD, MPH, of the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital. "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 ahead of print publication in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and .

In the study, vitamin D levels were assessed at three different time points between 1984 and 2003, and lung function was assessed concurrently with spirometry.

In vitamin D deficient subjects, for each one unit increase in pack-years of smoking, mean forced expiratory volume in one second () was 12 ml lower, compared with a mean reduction of 6.5 ml among subjects who were not vitamin D deficient. In longitudinal models, vitamin D deficiency exacerbated the effect of pack years of smoking on the decline in FEV1 over time.

No significant effect of vitamin D levels on lung function or lung function decline were observed in the overall study cohort, which included both smokers and non-smokers.

"Our results suggest that vitamin D might modify the damaging effects of smoking on lung function," said Dr. Lange. "These effects might be due to vitamin D's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties."

The study has some limitations, including that the data is observational only and not a trial, that vitamin D levels fluctuate over time, and that the study has limited generalizability due to the cohort being all elderly men.

"If these results can be replicated in other studies, they could be of great public health importance," said Dr. Lange. "Future research should also examine whether vitamin D protects against lung damage from other sources, such as air pollution."

"While these results are intriguing, the health hazards associated with smoking far outweigh any protective effect that vitamin D may have on lung function ," said Alexander C. White MS, MD, chair of the 's Tobacco Action Committee. "First and foremost, patients who smoke should be fully informed about the health consequences of smoking and in addition be given all possible assistance to help them quit smoking."

Explore further: Vitamin D deficiency and poorer lung function in asthmatic children treated with steroids

Related Stories

Vitamin D deficiency and poorer lung function in asthmatic children treated with steroids

July 13, 2012
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with poorer lung function in asthmatic children treated with inhaled corticosteroids, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.

Vitamin C improves pulmonary function in newborns of pregnant smoking women

May 22, 2012
Vitamin C supplementation in pregnant women who are unable to quit smoking significantly improves pulmonary function in their newborns, according to a new study.

Vitamin D deficiency shown to increase rejection rates in lung transplant patients

April 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increase in lung transplant rejection and infections, according to research conducted at Loyola University Health System (LUHS). Researchers also found that recipients ...

Recommended for you

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.