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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 07/07/99
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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Study Shows Weight Gain Decreases Lung Function

Cincinnati—University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine researchers have concluded that weight gain can significantly reduce pulmonary function and should be included as a variable in longitudinal studies of pulmonary function testing. These findings were published in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The study stemmed from results of a workplace surveillance of 361 males who were exposed to refractory ceramic fibers (RCFs), which is a manmade fiber used in industrial applications. The men received yearly pulmonary function tests over a five-year period from 1987 to 1994 to determine any changes in their respiratory function. Researchers noticed that 1 extra kilogram of weight gained each year led to a 16 milliliter decline in pulmonary function. This variance is comparable in magnitude and significance to other factors that are inversely related to lung function, such as increasing age and number of pack-years smoking. From these findings, researchers concluded that significant weight gain can cause a loss in lung function

"If a worker gains weight during employment, this gain may be partly responsible for a decline in lung function," says Roy McKay, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Health and lead author of the study. "If researchers do not measure weight change in their long-term studies, they may falsely attribute lung function decline to other factors, including occupational exposures."

Other UC researchers involved in the study are: Linda Levin, PhD, James Lockey, MD, Grace Lemasters, PhD, Mario Medvedovic, PhD, Diane Papes, Susan Simpson, MPH, RN, and Carol Rice, PhD.

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