Flavonoids may slow lung function decline due to aging

May 21, 2018, American Thoracic Society
Flavonoids may slow lung function decline due to aging. Credit: ATS

Previous research has shown that the plant-produced chemicals known as flavonoids have beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins, the type of flavonoid investigated in the current study, have been detected in lung tissue shortly after being ingested, and in animals models of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The plant chemicals appear to reduce mucus and inflammatory secretions.

However, "the epidemiological evidence on the association between flavonoids and is very scant," said lead study author Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Human Nutrition Division of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland. "So we wanted to investigate whether dietary intake and anthocyanins are associated with lung function decline in middle-age adults."

The researchers analyzed data from 463 adults (average age: 44) who participated in the second and third European Community Respiratory Health Surveys from 2002 to 2012. Those included in the current study completed a dietary questionnaire and underwent spirometry at enrollment and upon follow-up. A common lung function test, spirometry measures the amount of air that a person can forcefully exhale in one second (FEV1), the total amount of air a person can exhale after taking a deep breath (FVC) and the ratio of the two, FEV1/FVC. Participants were then grouped into quartiles based on the amount of anthocyanins they consumed.

The study found individuals in the highest, compared to the lowest, quartile of intake had:

  • a slower rate of annual decline in FEV1 than those in the lowest quartile: -9.8 milliliters per year (mL/yr) vs. -18.9 mL/yr.
  • a slower rate of annual decline in FVC than those in the lowest quartile: -9.8 mL/yr vs. -22.2 mL/yr.
  • a slower rate of annual decline in FEV1/FVC: -0.02/yr.

The researchers also analyzed the association between anthocyanin consumption and lung function in smokers, those who had never smoked and those who quit. The association between high consumption of the flavonoids and reduced appeared to be stronger among both never smokers and those who had quit than in the general study population. Among smokers, the study did not find an association between anthocyanin intake and .

The study adjusted for a wide range of factors, including characteristics of participants' diets, gender, height, body mass index and socioeconomic status. Another strength of the study was its inclusion of participants from two countries, Norway and England. The study was limited by its relatively small size and the fact that diets were self-reported.

"Our study suggests that the general population could benefit from consuming more fruits rich in these flavonoids like berries, particularly those who have given up smoking or have never smoked, Dr. Larsen said. "For smokers, quitting remains the best thing they can do to protect their health."

The first European Community Respiratory Health Survey began in 1990 in response to a worldwide increase in asthma prevalence. The scope of the surveys has expanded to include information about the associations between behavioral and environmental factors that might also affect the development of COPD.

Explore further: Diet rich in apples and tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests

More information: Abstract 15028: Dietary Intake of Anthocyanin Flavonoids and Ten Year Lung Function Decline in Adults from the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS)

Related Stories

Diet rich in apples and tomatoes may help repair lungs of ex-smokers, study suggests

December 21, 2017
A study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found the natural decline in lung function over a 10-year period was slower among former smokers with a diet high in tomatoes and fruits, especially apples, ...

Women who clean at home or work face increased lung function decline

February 16, 2018
Women who work as cleaners or regularly use cleaning sprays or other cleaning products at home appear to experience a greater decline in lung function over time than women who do not clean, according to new research published ...

'Western' diet associated with respiratory symptoms, COPD

March 5, 2018
(HealthDay)—A "Western" diet appears to be associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory symptoms, and decreased lung function, according to a study published online Feb. 15 in the Annals of ...

Fiber intake linked to measures of lung function

January 28, 2016
(HealthDay)—Fiber intake is associated with measures of lung function in U.S. adults, according to a study published online Jan. 19 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

COPD exacerbations lead to lung function decline, particularly among those with mild COPD

September 8, 2016
Acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are associated with significant long-term lung function loss, according to research published online, ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's ...

Lung function decline accelerates in menopausal women

December 2, 2016
Menopausal women appear to experience an accelerated decline in lung function, according to new research published online ahead of print in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care ...

Recommended for you

Students more likely to eat school breakfast when given extra time, new study finds

August 18, 2018
Primary school students are more likely to eat a nutritional breakfast when given 10 extra minutes to do so, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia Tech and Georgia Southern University.

Like shark attack and the lottery, unconscious bias influences cancer screening

August 17, 2018
What do shark attack, the lottery and ovarian cancer screening having in common? It turns out our judgments about these things are all influenced by unconscious bias.

Phantom odors: One American in 15 smells odors that aren't there, study finds

August 16, 2018
Imagine the foul smell of an ash tray or burning hair. Now imagine if these kinds of smells were present in your life, but without a source. A new study finds that 1 in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences ...

US drug overdose deaths surge amid fentanyl scourge

August 16, 2018
US drug overdose deaths surged to nearly 72,000 last year, as addicts increasingly turn to extremely powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl as the supply of prescription painkillers has tightened.

Parental life span predicts daughters living to 90 without chronic disease or disability

August 15, 2018
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine report that women whose mothers lived to at least age 90 were more likely to also live to 90, free of serious diseases and disabilities.

Eating breakfast burns more carbs during exercise and accelerates metabolism for next meal

August 15, 2018
Eating breakfast before exercise may "prime" the body to burn carbohydrates during exercise and more rapidly digest food after working out, University of Bath researchers have found.

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.