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MANHATTAN, Kan., Jul 26, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- A Kansas State University researcher says he has accidentally discovered a link between vitamin A and emphysema in smokers.
University researcher Richard Baybutt's previous studies found that rats fed a vitamin A-deficient diet developed emphysema, a lung disease found primarily in smokers.
He than exposed rats to cigarette smoke and found the rats became vitamin A deficient. He subsequently determined benzopyrene, a common carcinogen found in cigarettes, is the link to the deficiency.
"When the lung content of vitamin A was low, the score of emphysema was high," he said. "So, the hypothesis is that smokers develop emphysema because of a vitamin A deficiency."
Baybutt then began feeding the rats exposed to cigarette smoke a diet with higher levels of vitamin A and the incidents of emphysema were effectively reduced.
"There are a lot of people who live to be 90 years old and are smokers," he said. "Why? Probably because of their diet."
The findings appear in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition.
Copyright 2004 by United Press International.