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Meaty, Salty, Starchy Diet May Impact Chronic Lung Disease

December 2005

Research indicates that people who eat mostly meat, refined starches and salty foods are 1.43 times more likely to develop persistent coughs with phlegm than those who eat more fruit and soy foods.

According to a new study, eating meaty, salty, starchy foods may increase the likelihood of developing chronic respiratory symptoms, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

NIEHS Director David Schwartz said understanding all the contributing factors, including the role that diet plays in the incidence and development of chronic respiratory symptoms will lead to better prevention and treatment of respiratory diseases.

"We know that cigarette smoking can be a specific cause of COPD, but now we're learning that avoiding certain foods may help reduce chronic respiratory symptoms, both in smokers and non-smokers," said Schwartz.

The study consisted of analyzing the diets of 52,325 Chinese men and women from 45 to 74 years old. The dietary patterns are reflective of U.S. eating patterns. Stephanie London, lead investigator of the study, said scientists identified two distinct food patterns in the U.S. population. They are the "meat-dim sum pattern, " and the "vegetable-fruit-soy pattern."

The meat-dim sum pattern contained 31 foods, predominantly pork, chicken fish, noodle dishes, preserved foods and 11 snack items. The vegetable-fruit-soy pattern contained 32 foods, including 23 vegetables, 4 fruit items and five soy food items.

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