A chemical that naturally occurs in broccoli may help protect the lungs against the damage that leads to lung disease, according to a study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
The researchers studied the lung cells of 39 humans with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition in which the airways narrow and it becomes chronically difficult to breathe. They compared these to tissue samples from patients without COPD, which is particularly common among tobacco smokers.
The cells of lungs suffering from COPD were found to be deficient in a protein produced by a gene called NFR2, which regulates a variety of processes that clear out toxins and pollutants from the lungs. Perhaps for this reason, the lungs also had significantly lower levels of antioxidants and the proteins that prevent antioxidants from degrading. The more severe the COPD, the lower the levels of antioxidants and all these proteins.