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Smokers Might Reduce COPD Risk With Soy

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to a new study published in the journal Respiratory Research, eating a variety of soy products might protect smokers from respiratory disease, including COPD (chronic obstruction pulmonary disease). Consuming soy products was found to boost lung function by researchers from Curtin University of Technology, Australia in a large study of patients with COPD who answered questions about soy consumption.

Dr. Fumi Hirayama and Professor Andy Lee from Curtin University led the study that polled 300 patients from six Japanese hospitals who had COPD, focusing on their soy intake to find the reduced risk of COPD among patients who consume a variety of soy products. The patients were matched in age, and from the same geographic areas.

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The researchers found that consuming soy products was positively associated with lung function and decreased risk of developing COPD. According to Dr. Hirayama,” It has been suggested that flavonoids from soy foods act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the lung, and can protect against tobacco carcinogens for smokers. However, further research is needed to understand the underlying biological mechanism" of how soy products protect smokers from lung damage.

Previous studies suggest that consuming soy products can reduce cholesterol, leading to better heart health. Soy may also help menopause symptoms. The new study shows that soy may have a broader effect on health than previously recognized, and could be considered for reducing risk of COPD, though more studies are needed.

The study is the first to show that soy products are associated with decreased risk of COPD and respiratory ailments. Abstinence from smoking tobacco is still the best policy. Consuming tofu, fermented soybean paste, soy milk and bean sprouts may help smokers reduce the risk of developing COPD and other respiratory ailments. The positive effect of soy products on lung health is thought to be due to flavonoids contained in soy products that help reduce inflammation.