British researchers report
apples improve lung function

      British researchers last month announced persons eating more than five apples a week had better lung function and lower risk of respiratory disease than non-apple eaters. Apple eaters also reported less wheezing, said the researchers from the University of Nottingham. Their report was based on a study of the potential relationship between foods and respiratory health in 2,633 adults between 1991 and 2000.

      "We suspect that what we are seeing is an antioxidant effect," University of Nottingham lead researcher Dr. Emma Broadfield told Reuters Health, noting apples' high antioxidant content. Dr. Broadfield presented the study's findings May 20 at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting in San Francisco.

      The results were publicized in nationwide news reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the prevalence of asthma has grown 75 percent between 1980 and 1994. The American Cancer Society reports that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

      "This research adds to the growing body of science demonstrating that eating apples may improve health, including lung function," said Dr. Dianne Hyson, a registered dietitian and nutrition researcher with the University of California-Davis Medical Center. Hyson and her colleagues reported in the February Journal of Medicinal Food that daily consumption of antioxidants in apples and apple juice may help reduce damage caused by oxidation of the "bad" type of cholesterol.