Lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease have shared etiology, including key etiological changes (e.g., DNA damage and epigenetics change) and lung function impairment. Focusing on those shared targets may help in the prevention of both. Certain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytochemicals (carotenoids and phenols) have potent antioxidant or methyl-donating properties and thus have received considerable interest. We reviewed recent papers probing into the potential of nutrients with respect to lung function preservation and prevention of lung cancer risk, and suggest several hypothetical intervention patterns. Intakes of vitamins (i.e., A, C, D, E, B12
), carotenoids, flavonoids, curcumins, resveratrol, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids all show protective effects against lung function loss, some mainly by improving average lung function and others through reducing decline rate. Dietary interventions early in life may help lung function reserve over the lifespan. Protective nutrient interventions among smokers are likely to mitigate the effects of cigarettes on lung health. We also discuss their underlying mechanisms and some possible causes for the inconsistent results in observational studies and supplementation trials. The role of the lung microbiome on lung health and its potential utility in identifying protective nutrients are discussed as well. More prospective cohorts and well-designed clinical trials are needed to promote the transition of individualized nutrient interventions into health policy.
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