Vegetables help you breathe easy

A healthy diet slows the damaging effects of smoking and helps to prevent lung cancer from spreading

  • Lung disease claims the lives of 61,600 British people every single year
  • Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are the biggest killers
  • One potential cause of lung cancer may be the fumes from frying food
  • There is no cure for COPD but healthy diet of fruit, vegetables can help

A healthy diet may help mitigate the DNA-damaging effects of tobacco smoke, as well as perhaps helping prevent lung cancer from spreading.

Researchers took a group of long-time smokers and asked some to eat a single stalk of broccoli a day.

Compared with the others, the broccoli-eating ones suffered 41 per cent fewer DNA mutations in their bloodstream over ten days — and it seems the broccoli wasn’t just helping their livers work better, but making them more resilient at a subcellular level.

The benefits of cruciferous (broccoli family) veg may not end there. While breast cancer is the most common internal cancer among women, lung cancer is their No 1 killer, mostly because of how it spreads to other parts of the body.

Compounds in broccoli may have the potential to suppress this spread. In a 2010 study, scientists laid a layer of human lung cancer cells in a petri dish and cleared a swathe down the middle.

Within 24 hours the cells had crept back together and within 30 hours, the gap had closed fully.

But when the scientists dripped cruciferous vegetable compounds on the cells, cancer creep was stunted.

Data going back 50 years show that a high intake of fruit and vegetables aids good lung function. Just one extra serving of fruit each day may mean a 24 per cent lower risk of dying from COPD.

If it’s the antioxidants, why not just take a supplement? After all, popping a pill is easier than eating an apple. The reason is simple: it doesn’t seem to work.

Researchers in Sweden decided to test out a plant-based diet on a group of 35 severe asthmatics who weren’t getting better despite the best medical therapies.

Of the 24 patients who stuck with the plant-based diet, 70 per cent improved considerably after four months and 90 per cent improved within a year. So there’s no doubt — it’s definitely worth giving a plant-based diet a try.

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