Fruits and vegetables, due to high antioxidant capacity, may protect the lung from oxidative damage caused by tobacco smoke and potentially prevent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Only one study based on baseline diet has examined fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to risk of COPD, and no previous studies have examined long-term diet.
We investigated whether long-term fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with COPD incidence among 34 739 women (age 48-83 years) in the population-based prospective Swedish Mammography Cohort. Fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed twice (1987, 1997) with a self-administered questionnaire. Cases of COPD were identified by linkage to the Swedish health register. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
During follow-up from 2002 to 2014, 1512 women were diagnosed with COPD. Long-term fruit was associated with lower risk of COPD; women in the highest vs lowest quintile of consumption (≥2.5 vs <0.8 servings/day) had a 37% lower risk of COPD (95% CI: 25-48%; P-trend < 0.0001). No association was observed with long-term vegetable intake. Current and ex-smokers with low long-term consumption of fruits (<1 serving/day) in comparison to never smokers with high consumption (≥3 servings/day) had a 38-fold (HR: 38.1; 95% CI: 20.2-71.7) and 13-fold (HR: 12.5, 95% CI: 6.5-24.1) higher risk of COPD, respectively. However, no significant interaction between smoking status and fruit intake in relation to COPD incidence was observed (P-interaction = 0.95).
In this prospective cohort of middle-age and older women, long-term consumption of fruits but not vegetables was inversely associated with COPD incidence.