Vitamin A Deficiency Linked To Emphysema

Aug 12, 2004 12:16 PM EDT

A recent study has found a direct correlation between low levels of vitamin A and emphysema in smokers.

The Kansas State University study made the discovery while researching the relationship between lung inflammation and vitamin A. The research could have implications for smokers and the tobacco and health industries.

Low vitamin A equals high scores of emphysema

Previous research found that rats fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema, a lung disease found primarily in smokers. In the latest study, scientists exposed a group of rats to cigarette smoke and found that those rats became vitamin A deficient. Benzopyrene, a common carcinogen found in cigarettes, is the link to the deficiency. When fed to rats, benzopyrene induces vitamin A deficiency.

Researchers found that when the lung content of vitamin A was low, the score of emphysema was high—leading them to hypothesize that smokers develop emphysema because of a vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A reduced emphysema

To further study the connection between smoking, vitamin A deficiency and emphysema, scientists began feeding the rats exposed to cigarette smoke a diet with higher levels of vitamin A. The results showed that the areas of emphysema in the subjects were effectively reduced.

The scientists hope to continue their research and further investigate the link between vitamin A and lung cancer.