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Breathe Easy, Take Antioxidants

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Antioxidant supplements may improve lung damage caused by ozone, reports James M. Samet, PhD of the US Environmental Protection Agency's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Lab in North Carolina.

Antioxidant supplements may improve lung damage caused by ozone, reports James M. Samet, PhD of the US Environmental Protection Agency's National Health and Environmental Effects Research Lab in North Carolina. Ozone gas is a common air pollutant found in smog that damages cells, leading to inflammation and decreased lung function. Samet's study placed 31 healthy nonsmoking adults on a vitamin C-restricted diet for three weeks, then gave half the group a placebo and the other half daily doses of vitamins C and E and a carotenoid-rich vegetable drink. After exposure to ozone for two hours, the group taking antioxidants showed 24 per cent and 30 per cent improvement in two lung function tests, compared with the placebo group.

Air pollution is a major health concern among Canadians, says the Canadian Lung Association lung.ca. One in five Canadians has some form of respiratory problem and lung disease is now the third-leading cause of death in Canada and on the rise.

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