Soy consumption linked to healthier lung function in older smokers with higher intake also decreasing symptoms

July 07, 2009

A team of Australian and Japanese scientists report that increased intake of soy foods is connected with improving lung function and a reduction in the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in older men and women. COPD occurs mainly in smokers. It is characterized by coughing, phlegm production and shortness of breath, and it is a leading cause of death and illness worldwide.

The researchers compared 278 Japanese men and women between the ages of 50 and 75 years with COPD to 340 individuals without the disease. Patients without COPD were found to have a greater intake of fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish than those with the disease. Soy consumption was significantly higher in the healthy group compared to COPD patients with those whose soy intake was among the top one-fourth of participants having a 61% lower risk of COPD than those whose intake was among the lowest fourth. A similar reduction in COPD risk was associated with tofu and soybean sprouts.

Additionally, such symptoms as cough and breathlessness were associated with lower soy consumption. The study is published online ahead of print on June 26, 2009 in the journal Respiratory Research.