Those suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) know the symptoms all too well — shortness of breath, colds and coughs — being bogged down with an array of breathing problems. With COPD moving its way up the ranks to #3 on the list of leading causes of death in the United States, just behind heart disease and cancer, it’s no wonder why November is observed as national COPD Awareness Month. We know long-term exposure to smoke and lung irritants, as well as asthma, are the leading causes of this progressive disease, but now new research shows that trimming belly fat and maintaining normal weight may help improve your outcome.

German and U.S. researchers examined the association of waist and hip circumference, body mass index (BMI) and physical activity levels in 113,279 men and women ages 50 to 70 over a ten year period.  Obesity, in particular abdominal fat, was positively associated with COPD.  Those with highest waist circumference and waist-hip ratios had increased risks of 72% and 46%, respectively for COPD compared to normal groups. The authors also found that patients who have even mild COPD enjoyed improved quality of life and fewer hospital stays with weight loss.

“Our findings suggest that next to smoking cessation and the prevention of smoking initiation, meeting guidelines for body weight, body shape and physical activity level may represent important individual and public health opportunities to decrease the risk of COPD,” write the authors.

Early discovery and diagnosis is the key to successful management of this chronic disease.  Don’t let COPD take your breath away.  Broccoli’s protective powers re-activate your lung’s defense systems, according to researchers from the John Hopkins School of Public Health.

Another study found that kids who ate a banana a day were 34% less likely to develop asthma.

Published November 1, 2014