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Smokers with a vitamin D deficiency experience a faster decline in lung function than those who have normal vitamin D levels, a new study finds. The researchers said increasing vitamin D levels will not prevent smoking-related health problems such as cancer, heart disease or stroke.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston examined the relationship between vitamin D deficiency, smoking, lung function and the rate of lung function decline over 20 years, in a group of 626 white men. They found vitamin D deficiency was associated with lower lung function and more rapid lung function decline in smokers over 20 years. The findings suggest that vitamin D sufficiency may have a protective effect against the damaging effects of smoking on lung function, HealthDay reports.

“Our results suggest that vitamin D might modify the damaging effects of smoking on lung function,” lead author Nancy E. Lange, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “These effects might be due to vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.”

The findings appear in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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