Vitamin D deficiency is associated with worse lung function and more rapid decline in lung function over time in smokers, suggesting that vitamin D may have a protective effect against the effects of smoking on lung function, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.
"We examined the relationship between vitamin D deficiency, smoking, lung function, and the rate of lung function decline over a 20 year period in a cohort of 626 adult white men from the Normative Aging Study," said lead author Nancy E. Lange, MD, MPH, of the Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital. "We found that vitamin D sufficiency (defined as serum vitamin D levels of >20 ng/ml) had a protective effect on lung function and the rate of lung function decline in smokers."
The findings were published online ahead of print publication in the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
In the study, vitamin D levels were assessed at three different time points between 1984 and 2003, and lung function was assessed concurrently with spirometry.
In vitamin D deficient subjects, for each one unit increase in pack-years of smoking, mean forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) was 12 ml lower, compared with a mean reduction of 6.5 ml among subjects who were not vitamin D deficient. In longitudinal models, vitamin D deficiency exacerbated the effect of pack years of smoking on the decline in FEV1 over time.
No significant effect of vitamin D levels on lung function or lung function decline were observed in the overall study cohort, which included both smokers and non-smokers.
"Our results suggest that vitamin D might modify the damaging effects of smoking on lung function," said Dr. Lange. "These effects might be due to vitamin D's anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties."