Curtin University of Technology researchers have found that long-term consumption of soy products can reduce the risk and symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The world-first study, published today in Respiratory Research, was led by Curtin’s Professor Andy Lee and included academics from Curtin’s Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI) and representatives from four Japanese hospitals.
Professor Lee said the research, conducted in Japan, found that people who consumed more than 75g of soy products daily had the most health benefits.
“We also found that people who consumed at least 50g of soy products per day reduced their risk of developing COPD and respiratory symptoms,” he said.
COPD most commonly develops as a result of cigarette smoking.
Professor Lee warned that although the research found that soy consumption could reduce the risk of COPD, it did not mean smokers should continue with the habit.
“Studies like this show that diet can result in new methods of prevention which can have an important impact on the cost to our health care systems,” he said.
“Our research showed that long-term soy consumption was associated with improved lung function and a reduction in the risk of COPD.
“It also showed that increased consumption of soy products can lead to a decrease in breathlessness, which has been suggested as a result of flavonoids from soy foods acting as an anti-inflammatory agent in the lung.
“Further research is needed to understand the underlying biological reason for this occurring.”
The soy food products looked at in the study included tofu, natto, bean sprouts and soy milk.