EMPHYSEMA / COPD

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS

There are several lung diseases collectively known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), including asthmatic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis (with normal airflow), chronic obstructive bronchitis, bullous disease, and emphysema. About 11% of the population of the United States suffers from COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease

Chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), also known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), includes several related irreversible conditions that limit the ability to exhale. The two major diseases in this category are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Because smoking is overwhelmingly the cause of both diseases, they often develop together and frequently require similar treatments and approaches.

Emphysema – In emphysema caused by smoking, which constitutes the vast majority of cases, the very small airways (bronchioles) that join the alveoli are damaged, and the walls lose elasticity. In a rare, inherited form of emphysema known as alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, both the walls of the bronchioles and alveoli to which they connect, usually in the lower lungs, are diseased. Pockets of dead air form in the injured areas impeding the ability to exhale and reducing normal respiratory function (the normal working of the lungs). Inhalation, however, is not impaired, and until the late stages of the disease, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are normal. Experts believe the process leading to emphysema is mostly due to an imbalance in chemicals that, under ordinary circumstances, protect the lungs from infection and damage. Important chemicals are the proteases, which are enzymes produced by the immune system to fight infection when inflammation occurs in tissues. However, these proteases particularly one known as neutrophil elastase actually attack lung cell membranes unless they are neutralized by a protective protein called alpha 1-antitrypsin (AAT), another critical chemical. Any condition that causes an imbalance in these substances may trigger emphysema.

Chronic Bronchitis – Chronic bronchitis is characterized by structural changes in the airways of the lungs and enlargement of the mucous glands, which causes coughing and production of sputum. As chronic bronchitis often coincides with emphysema, it is frequently difficult for a physician to distinguish between the two.

The incidence of emphysema, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, is up more than 40% since 1982. Emphysema permanently enlarges and irreversibly damages the alveoli, damages the ends and walls of the smallest bronchioles (the tiny breathing tubes that branch off from the trachea and bronchi), and diminishes the elasticity of the lung.

The alveoli (tiny air sacs whose walls are covered with minuscule blood vessels) remove carbon dioxide from the blood, releasing it into the lung to be breathed out, and also absorb oxygen, transferring it into the blood. This exchange is essential to survival and is the key function of the lungs. Alveoli have fragile, thin walls, which are easily damaged. Breakage of these walls makes the oxygen-carbon dioxide transfer much less efficient. The bronchioles distribute the air throughout the lung to the individual alveoli. Once damaged, the bronchioles tend to collapse, trapping stale air in the isolated sacs and no longer transmitting fresh air in.

As the alveoli and bronchial tubes are destroyed, more air is required to provide the same amount of oxygen to the blood via the parts of the lung that are still functioning. This need for more air eventually leads to lung over-inflation. As the lung over-expands, it gradually enlarges, completely filling the chest cavity and causing a sense of shortness of breath. Because the lung can no longer expand or contract as completely as before, the “stale” air left in the lung is never completely replaced by fresh air. The combination of a larger, less elastic lung and damaged, non-functioning tissue means that the airflow out of the lung is much slower, resulting in the feeling of an obstructed airway.

Causes

Any lung disease that causes the narrowing of the respiratory airways (such as chronic bronchitis or asthma) may contribute to the onset of emphysema, but smoking is the primary cause. In addition to the irreversible damage smoking causes to lung tissue, it causes inflammation of the lungs, which resolves only when smoking is stopped. More than 80% of all emphysema is directly attributable to smoking. Tars, smoke, toxic chemicals added by tobacco companies for various reasons, and other gases combine to block the production of alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), leading to the destruction of the elastic fibers of the alveoli.

PRE-DISPOSING FACTORS

a. Environmental sensitivity.

b. Lung destruction due to overuse of tobacco.

c. With emphysema the alpha 1 anti-trypsin factor will be reduced. This indicates that proteolytic enzymes containing trypsin should not be used. Note: With asthma, the alpha 1 anti-trypsin factor will generally not be reduced; therefore, the alpha 1 anti-trypsin factor is an excellent way to differentiate emphysema from asthma.

d. Adrenal hypo-function.

e. Increased red blood count, hemoglobin and/or hematocrit.

Treatment

Emphysema is a pulmonary deficiency usually caused by years of free radical damage that results in degenerative changes in the air sacs of the lung. Free radicals and changes of antioxidant enzymes are also thought to play a role in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Pulmonary oxygen radical injury, and the protective role of antioxidant enzymes in COPD, were measured in one study. The results suggest that the increased free-radical toxicity and decreased glutathione peroxidase and catalase activities in red blood cells are involved in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

In another study, an imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants in smokers and in patients with airway diseases such as asthma was proposed. Antioxidants were measured in a group of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. The results showed that smoking, acute COPD attacks, and asthma are associated with a marked oxidant/antioxidant imbalance in the blood, associated with evidence of increased oxidative stress.

DIETARY SUGGESTIONS

a. Eliminate all mucous producing foods such as dairy products, gluten containing grains, gelatin and citrus.

b. Eliminate all hydrogenated fats and oils. Eat only extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil and fish oils as your only source of dietary oils

c. Eliminate fried foods, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, processed foods and caffeine containing foods such as coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.

d. Increase raw foods and quality protein like sea vegetables.

e. Drink a mouthful of distilled water every 30 minutes while awake (no well water or water containing fluoride or chlorine).

NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS

Primary Nutrients

1. BIO-MULTI PLUS – 1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals

2. BIO-C PLUS 1000 -1 tablet, 3 times daily after meals.

3. M S M POWDER – 1/2 teaspoonful 2 to 4 times daily depending on the severity of symptoms. NOTE: Try to take MSM with your Vitamin C.

4. IODIZYME-HP — 1 to 2 tablets daily for liquifying lung fluids.

5. SUNFLAX CAPS — 2 capsules 2 times daily for Essential Fatty Acids.

Specific Nutrients When symptoms or condition begins to subside, gradually, as needed, wean yourself from the Specific Nutrients & stay on the Primary Nutrients. If any symptoms re-occur resume taking Specific Nutrients.

6. OORGANIK-15 – 2 tablets, 3 times daily with meals.

7. PHOSPHATIDYLCHOLINE – 2 capsules, 3 times daily with meals.

8. CO Q-ZYME FORTE 30MG – 1 tablet, once daily with a meal.

9. BIO-AE MULSION FORTE – 10 drops, once daily after a meal.

10. PNEUMA-ZYME – 2 tablets, 3 times daily between meals and at bedtime.

11. CYTOZYME-AD – 2 tablets, twice daily between meals.

12. GSH-PLUS – 2 capsules, 3 times daily between meals and at bedtime.

ADDENDUM:

Low Vitamin A Intake

Epidemiologic studies have a shown the severity of COPD correlates with low vitamin A intake. Other reports indicate that serum levels of vitamin A (retinol) are below normal in patients with COPD.

The results of this part of the study showed that serum levels of vitamin A were significantly lower in the two groups with moderate or severe COPD, although no group exhibited overt vitamin A deficiency.

These results support earlier findings of an association between low vitamin A status and COPD. In addition, the authors conclude that the improvement in pulmonary function observed following vitamin A supplementation suggests “the existence of a local vitamin A deficiency” in persons with COPD. Those with COPD may consider supplementation with 125,000 units of vitamin A in the emulsified form per day.

Exercise and Nutrition

Though exercise before the onset of emphysema can increase lung capacity, it has not been demonstrated to have that effect in those suffering from the disease. Regular aerobic exercise does, however, help the patient to use available oxygen more efficiently, and also strengthens the heart. Protein therapy in those known to have AAT deficiency has significantly slowed the destruction of functional lung tissue. Use of protein therapy in smoking-induced emphysema has not been reported.

If sound nutrition is important in preventing emphysema, it is crucial once the disease has been diagnosed. Malnutrition may increase the risk of respiratory failure in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. French scientists found that the primary goal of a successful nutritional program for those with COPD should be to improve diaphragm strength by correcting the mineral and electrolyte disturbances at the muscular level.

Pulmonary rehabilitation in emphysema patients has resulted in reduced hospitalization, improved well-being and exercise tolerance, and reduced shortness of breath. Such programs usually require physician referral, a cardiopulmonary stress test, and evaluation by an RRT (registered respiratory therapist). Substantial benefits are reported for those suffering from emphysema, asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic bronchitis, and sarcoidosis. It is also recommended for those planning to undergo lung reduction therapy as well as for those who have just completed that surgery. There are residential programs lasting about 8 weeks and including smoking cessation, education on breathing exercises, nutrition, energy conservation, stress reduction, and the management of medication. Exercise includes such activities as walking on a treadmill, walking, stationary bicycling, stretching, and working out with light weights. Exercise programs are always tailored to individual needs. Regular exercise has been proven to improve the condition of the cardiopulmonary system.

Regenerating Alveoli

Scientists funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute have demonstrated a remarkable regeneration of alveoli, which returned to their normal size and number. In research using rats at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, treatment with retinoic acid, a metabolite of vitamin A, scientists demonstrated for the first time a non-surgical reversal of damage caused by emphysema. Not only were the number of alveoli increased in normal rats, but alveoli in rats with emphysema were repaired, and lung elasticity recoil was significantly improved. Though these studies have so far been conducted only in animals, results are very promising, leading a number of physicians to put their emphysema patients on retinoic acid therapy.

As human research studies are reported, many caregivers are confident that this remarkable therapy will be more widely adopted. In fact, the FDA has now approved the drug all-trans-retinoic acid for emphysema therapy. All Trans-retinoic acid must be prescribed by a physician. If the high cost of retinoic acid makes its cost prohibitive, consider taking ten drops a day (125,000 international units) of emulsified liquid vitamin A.

Summary

Emphysema is one of the diseases known collectively as COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Though emphysema can be brought on by a number of situations and conditions that damage the lungs, the primary causative factor is smoking. Exposure to fine particulate matter, aerosol sprays, industrial chemicals, and air pollution can damage the lungs, leading to emphysema, or making the condition worse in those already suffering from the disease. Vitamin A and antioxidant supplementation, regular exercise, postural drainage and percussion, the use of steam and hot mist vaporizers, and lung reduction and transplant surgery are all useful therapies for emphysema.

This from Dr. Sherman, a Naturopathic Physician: “An increased quantity of raw foods in the diet will prove beneficial, as will hot and spicy foods such as garlic, onions, chili peppers, horseradish, and mustard,” says Dr. Sherman. “Cold-pressed olive oil can be taken daily as well, and seaweed may also bring substantial relief.”

Dr. Sherman advises avoiding mucous-forming foods such as dairy products, salt, eggs, meat, processed foods, “junk foods,” and white flour products. He has found that grapes and raw grape juice provide beneficial aid, as do the raw juices from other fruits, including oranges, lemons, and black currants. “Raw vegetable juices such as carrot, spinach, celery, and watercress are strongly recommended, as well, and are even more beneficial when a small amount of garlic juice is added to them,” he says. In crisis situations, Dr. Sherman suggests a three-to ten-day fast, drinking only fresh, raw vegetable juices.

ALSO

Emphysema is a progressive respiratory disease in which millions of the lungs’ alveoli (tiny air sacs) stretch out of shape or rupture. When these thin, fragile air sacs become damaged or destroyed, the lungs are unable to empty easily because their elasticity is gradually destroyed. This leads to irreversible holes in the tissue of the lungs, and it reduces the lungs’ capacity for normal air exchange (the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in the alveoli). As a consequence, breathing becomes labored and inefficient, and the patient experiences a feeling of breathlessness.

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and they often occur together. A person with chronic bronchitis (an inflammation and swelling of the bronchial walls, which produces air flow obstruction) usually has a cough that may last for months before stopping, only to return some time later. Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis are caused by damage to the respiratory tract, and this damage is always permanent and irreversible.

Smoking is responsible for most cases of COPD, including emphysema. However, exposure to air pollution and toxins can also cause emphysema. In general, the risk factors for emphysema include: smoking; exposure to passive, or secondhand smoke; exposure to certain airborne irritants or noxious chemicals; or living in an area where there is significant air pollution (high levels of sulfur dioxide and particulates).

In addition to the majority of patients whose emphysema is smoke-related, an estimated 100,000 Americans have an inherited form of emphysema called alpha 1-antitryspin (AAT) deficiency-related emphysema. This type of emphysema is caused by an inherited gene mutation that results in a lack of the protective protein AAT. Under normal conditions, ATT shields the lungs from a natural enzyme called neutrophil elastase that helps to fight bacteria and to clean up dead lung tissue. Unless this enzyme is neutralized by AAT, it can also eventually damage lung tissue. Since people with inherited ATT deficiency lack sufficient ATT to neutralize neutrophil elastase, enzyme-related damage can rapidly lead to emphysema. In people with the inherited form of emphysema, lung damage can appear as early as age 30. This is decades sooner than the normal onset of emphysema in those whose illness is linked to smoking. Smoking is believed to cause emphysema in part because tobacco smoking inactivates AAT.

About 2 million Americans currently have emphysema, and it is considered to be the most common cause of death from respiratory disease in the United States. Most patients (61percent) with emphysema are cigarette-smoking males older than age 40, who live in areas where pollution is a constant problem. However, the prevalence rate in women has recently increased by 11 percent.

Main Symptoms

Independent of its cause, emphysema can produce a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. The first symptom is usually shortness of breath after performing an activity that previously caused no problems, such as taking a short walk or vacuuming the house. In the early stages of emphysema, breathing difficulties progress slowly, so that respiratory changes are hardly noticed. With time, however, a person with emphysema can eventually exhibit any or all of the following symptoms:

* Shortness of breath that worsens gradually
* Wheezing, coughing, bringing up phlegm (if chronic bronchitis is also present)
* A constricted feeling in the chest
* Barrel-like distended chest
* Constant fatigue
* Difficulty sleeping
* Weight loss

In addition, many patients with emphysema experience anxiety and/or depression.

What Your Doctor Looks For

Your doctor will ask for detailed information about your emphysema risk factors, especially smoking (how long you’ve smoked, and how many cigarettes per day). Other questions may include:

* Is passive smoke present, either at work or at home?
* Do you live or work in an area where you are exposed to airborne irritants or noxious materials?
* Do you live in an area with significant air pollution?
* Is there a family history of AAT deficiency or early onset of emphysema (especially in a nonsmoker)?

Your doctor will also ask about your respiratory symptoms, especially respiratory allergies, recurrent bad colds, or a persistent, heavy cough.

What Is It?

Emphysema is a progressive respiratory disease in which millions of the lungs’ alveoli (tiny air sacs) stretch out of shape or rupture. When these thin, fragile air sacs become damaged or destroyed, the lungs are unable to empty easily because their elasticity is gradually destroyed. This leads to irreversible holes in the tissue of the lungs, and it reduces the lungs’ capacity for normal air exchange (the exchange of oxygen for carbon dioxide in the alveoli). As a consequence, breathing becomes labored and inefficient, and the patient experiences a feeling of breathlessness.

Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the two most common forms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and they often occur together. A person with chronic bronchitis (an inflammation and swelling of the bronchial walls, which produces air flow obstruction) usually has a cough that may last for months before stopping, only to return some time later. Both emphysema and chronic bronchitis are caused by damage to the respiratory tract, and thiimatmage is always permanent and irreversible.

Smoking is responsible for most cases of COPD, including emphysema. However, exposure to air pollution and toxins can also cause emphysema. In general, the risk factors for emphysema include: smoking; exposure to passive, or secondhand smoke; exposure to certain airborne irritants or noxious chemicals; or living in an area where there is significant air pollution (high levels of sulfur dioxide and particulates).

In addition to the majority of patients whose emphysema is smoke-related, an estimated 100,000 Americans have an inherited form of emphysema called alpha 1-antitryspin (AAT) deficiency-related emphysema. This type of emphysema is caused by an inherited gene mutation that results in a lack of the protective protein AAT. Under normal conditions, ATT shields the lungs from a natural enzyme called neutrophil elastase that helps to fight bacteria and to clean up dead lung tissue. Unless this enzyme is neutralized by AAT, it can also eventually damage lung tissue. Since people with inherited ATT deficiency lack sufficient ATT to neutralize neutrophil elastase, enzyme-related damage can rapidly lead to emphysema. In people with the inherited form of emphysema, lung damage can appear as early as age 30. This is decades sooner than the normal onset of emphysema in those whose illness is linked to smoking. Smoking is believed to cause emphysema in part because tobacco smoking inactivates AAT.

About 2 million Americans currently have emphysema, and it is considered to be the most common cause of death from respiratory disease in the United States. Most patients (61percent) with emphysema are cigarette-smoking males older than age 40, who live in areas where pollution is a constant problem. However, the prevalence rate in women has recently increased by 11 percent.

Symptoms

Independent of its cause, emphysema can produce a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. The first symptom is usually shortness of breath after performing an activity that previously caused no problems, such as taking a short walk or vacuuming the house. In the early stages of emphysema, breathing difficulties progress slowly, so that respiratory changes are hardly noticed. With time, however, a person with emphysema can eventually exhibit any or all of the following symptoms:

* Shortness of breath that worsens gradually
* Wheezing, coughing, bringing up phlegm (if chronic bronchitis is also present)
* A constricted feeling in the chest
* Barrel-like distended chest
* Constant fatigue
* Difficulty sleeping
* Weight loss

In addition, many patients with emphysema experience anxiety and/or depression.

What Your Doctor Looks For

Your doctor will ask for detailed information about your emphysema risk factors, especially smoking (how long you’ve smoked, and how many cigarettes per day). Other questions may include:

* Is passive smoke present, either at work or at home?
* Do you live or work in an area where you are exposed to airborne irritants or noxious materials?
* Do you live in an area with significant air pollution?
* Is there a family history of AAT deficiency or early onset of emphysema (especially in a nonsmoker)?

Your doctor will also ask about your respiratory symptoms, especially respiratory allergies, recurrent bad colds, or a persistent, heavy cough.

Diagnosis

Your doctor will take a medical history, do a physical exam and conduct tests to rule out any other respiratory diseases and to determine how far emphysema has progressed. During the physical exam, your general appearance will be evaluated, including the color of your lips and fingernails (a bluish tint signals low levels of oxygen in the blood). Your jugular veins (in the neck) will be examined to see if they are distended (a sign that lung damage is affecting the cardiovascular system) and if this distention changes with respiration. As you inhale and exhale, your doctor will look for signs of labored breathing, wheezing and shortness of breath. Your doctor will listen to your lung sounds with a stethoscope and tap your chest with his or her finger to estimate the size of your lungs.

To confirm the diagnosis of emphysema, your doctor may order the following tests:

* Pulmonary function tests – You will breathe into a special mouthpiece. The mouthpiece is connected to a device that can measure the amount of air in your lungs, how quickly you can empty your lungs and how well your lungs are able to exchange gas with the blood.
* Blood tests – Some tests measure the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Others are used to check for low AAT levels, especially in a nonsmoker who shows symptoms of emphysema.
* Chest X-rays – These X-rays help to rule out pneumonia, lung cancer and other lung diseases. They also screen for possible heart problems. In patients with emphysema, chest X-rays can show lungs that are enlarged but have relatively little tissue.
* Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – This test measures the electrical activity of the heart and is usually done before a patient begins physical therapy in cases where heart problems are detected.
* Sputum analysis – A small amount of mucus is collected and tested for respiratory infection.
* Exercise stress test – In this test, a patient uses a treadmill while a specialist determines a safe exercise level, with or without the need for extra oxygen.

If a person is diagnosed with the inherited form of emphysema, family members (including children) should also be tested to determine whether they have AAT deficiency.

Expected Duration

Most cases of emphysema are diagnosed in patients who are in their 50s or 60s and have a history of smoking cigarettes. However, people with the inherited form of emphysema can show symptoms as early as age 30. Regardless of the cause, emphysema has no cure and lasts a lifetime.

Prevention

If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Studies have shown that by quitting smoking you can either prevent emphysema or slow down its progression. It is also important to limit exposure to air pollution by trying to restrict your outdoor activity when there are reports of high smog levels.

People diagnosed with emphysema are urged to visit their doctors for appropriate vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia, two respiratory infections that can make emphysema symptoms worse.

Treatment

No treatment can reverse or stop the course of emphysema, but steps can be taken to relieve symptoms, treat complications and minimize disability. Topping the list of treatment advice from a doctor is to quit smoking, the single critical factor for maintaining healthy lungs. Cessation of smoking is most effective at the early stages of emphysema, but can also slow down the rate of decline of lung function in later stages. In addition, other emphysema treatments may include:

* Environmental changes – To reduce your exposure to airborne toxins, your doctor may advise you and your family to stop using aerosol sprays, including deodorants, hair sprays and insecticides.
* Medications – Doctors generally prescribe bronchodilators (medications that open up the airways). These may be taken as an inhalant spray or in pill form. Antibiotics may also be necessary to treat acute respiratory infections (such as bacterial pneumonia), while corticosteroids may be given to reduce airway inflammation.
* Pulmonary rehabilitation – Supervised exercise training can help rebuild weakened muscles, reducing shortness of breath and improving day-to-day functioning.
* Lung volume reduction surgery – This is a new surgical procedure in which the most severely diseased portions of the lungs are removed to permit the remaining lung and breathing muscles to work better.
* Lung transplants or heart-lung transplants – These surgeries are only performed as last-ditch efforts to treat the most severe cases of emphysema.

When To Call Your Doctor

If you smoke, you should see your doctor annually to be tested for early signs of emphysema (also lung cancer and heart disease). If you have family members with AAT deficiency, you should alert your doctor to the situation so that you can be tested for the problem, too. If you already know that you have ATT deficiency, your doctor can regularly monitor your breathing for early signs of emphysema.

Whether or not you have any of the risk factors for emphysema, call your doctor whenever you have new shortness of breath, a chronic cough with or without phlegm, or a significant decrease in your usual ability to exercise.

Prognosis

There is no cure for emphysema, but this chronic condition can be treated and controlled. Patients who follow treatment instructions and adopt good health habits can enjoy a fairly normal lifestyle for a long time. Even patients whose emphysema is severe (those with a significant decrease in airflow rates and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the blood) have a good chance of surviving for five years or more.

Unfortunately, in those patients with emphysema who continue to smoke, research indicates that smoking dramatically increases the severity of their illness and may reduce their life span by 10 years or more.

NHLBI Researchers Reverse Emphysema in Lab Animals
By The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Scientists supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) have shown, for the first time, that retinoic acid, a derivative of Vitamin A, reverses emphysema in the lungs of laboratory rats.

Dr. Gloria De Carlo Massaro and Dr. Donald Massaro of the Georgetown University School of Medicine showed that in rats given elastase to produce emphysema-like changes in their lungs, treatment with retinoic acid returned the lung alveoli to normal size and number. The alveoli are the small air spaces in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the bloodstream takes place.

Elastase is a protein that breaks down the elastin that helps maintain the alveolar walls.

The Massaro study appears in the June issue of Nature Medicine.

“This is the first time that anyone has identified a means of reversing emphysema,” said NHLBI Director Dr. Claude Lenfant. “It represents the first step in improving our understanding of the role of retinoic acid and similar agents in forming alveoli. It could lead to the development of an agent for treating lung diseases like emphysema and bronchopulmonary dysplasia in which the patient has insufficient alveoli to breathe efficiently.

“Nonetheless,” he added, “a great deal more basic research is needed before we can even begin to think about applying this to humans. Until then, we caution that there is absolutely no evidence that Vitamin A supplementation is useful in treating lung disorders.”

Emphysema is a lung disease that currently affects approximately 2 million Americans, most of them longtime smokers over the age of 45. It accounts for approximately 17,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and more than $2.5 billion in annual health care costs.

In early 1996, the Massaros showed that treating normal newborn rats with retinoic acid increased the number of alveoli in their lungs. In the new study, the Massaros tested whether retinoic acid could produce the same results in adult rats with emphysema.

The Massaros first instilled elastase into the lungs of laboratory rats and confirmed that it causes changes.

LINKS:

1. The American Lung Association