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Prospective study of dietary patterns and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among US men
  1. Raphaëlle Varraso1,
  2. Teresa T Fung2,
  3. Frank B Hu1,
  4. Walter Willett1,
  5. Carlos A Camargo3
  1. 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Department of Nutrition, Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Raphaëlle Varraso
    Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, 655 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA; rvarraso{at}


Background: Many foods are associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms or lung function. Because foods are consumed together and nutrients may interact, dietary patterns are an alternative way of characterising diet. A study was undertaken to assess the relation between dietary patterns and newly diagnosed COPD in men.

Methods: Data were collected from a large prospective cohort of US men (Health Professionals Follow-up Study). Using principal component analysis, two dietary patterns were identified: a prudent pattern (high intake of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grain products) and a Western pattern (high intake of refined grains, cured and red meats, desserts and French fries). Dietary patterns were categorised into quintiles and Cox proportional hazards models were adjusted for age, smoking, pack-years, (pack-years)2, race/ethnicity, physician visits, US region, body mass index, physical activity, multivitamin use and energy intake.

Results: Between 1986 and 1998, 111 self-reported cases of newly diagnosed COPD were identified among 42 917 men. The prudent pattern was inversely associated with the risk of newly diagnosed COPD (RR for highest vs lowest quintile 0.50 (95% CI 0.25 to 0.98), p for trend = 0.02), and the Western pattern was positively associated with the risk of newly diagnosed COPD (RR for highest vs lowest quintile 4.56 (95% CI 1.95 to 10.69), p for trend <0.001).

Conclusions: In men, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish may reduce the risk of COPD whereas a diet rich in refined grains, cured and red meats, desserts and French fries may increase the risk of COPD.

  • BMI, body mass index
  • COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • FEV1, forced expiratory volume in 1 s
  • FFQ, food frequency questionnaire
  • HPFS, Health Professionals Follow-up Study

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  • Supported by research grant CA55075 and HL60712 from the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD, USA). RV was supported by grants from the Société de Pneumologie de Langue Française (Paris, France) and the Société Française de Nutrition (Paris, France).

  • Competing interests: RV, TTF, FBH, WW: None declared. CAC has received financial support from a variety of groups for participation in conferences, consulting and medical research. During 2002–2006, industry sponsors with an interest in COPD were Altana, Astra Zeneca, Aventis Pasteur, Aventis, Boehringer Ingelheim, Dey, GSK, Janssen, Med Immune, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Respironics and Schering-Plough. CAC did not receive any financial support from the food and beverage industries.