October 5, 2011
Study eyes air quality, diet (from The Herald Journal, by Kevin Opsahl)
USU teams up with USANA Health Sciences to look at ways to keep people healthy through inversion
Utah State University and a Utah-based global nutritional supplement company are teaming up in a study to better understand the connection between dietary antioxidants and the impact of pollution on the respiratory systems of children and the elderly.
The results could lead to better knowledge of what vitamins and minerals provide for the most healthy diet during the winter months in Cache Valley, a time where air quality is at its worst.
USU professors say the poor quality comes because high pressure systems act as a lid to trap pollutants from car exhaust and wood-burning chimney fires.
The USTAR-funded Applied Nutrition Research team at USU and the company, USANA Health Sciences, will begin recruiting participants for the double-blind study starting today. The actual study will begin next year.
“I think it’s always been an important issue to study,” said Michael Lefevre, a USTAR professor in USU’s College of Agriculture focusing on overall human health and personalized medicine. “Response to air pollution is ... the 18th leading
cause of death in the world.”
Lefevre said they want to see if there are “things we can do personally” to minimize the adverse effects of air pollution — “and if we can extend it into people’s diet, then that would be the next step.”
Once the subjects are chosen — between 60 and 70 of them — they will come in every two weeks from January to March to receive supplements, which will be off-the-shelf for the purposes of the study.
Lefevre blamed the quality of the air in Cache Valley on small particulate pollution, which can get into the bloodstream, lodge in the lungs and cause irritation and inflammation, he said.
“The supplement packs (in the study) will hopefully work against those mechanisms,” Lefevre said.
Such supplements could be the answer to reducing problems at-risk groups can have with their lungs. Utah’s supplement industry represents $6.1 billion in annual revenue, said Tamara Goetz, state science adviser in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
“The partnership (between USU and USANA Health Sciences) exemplifies the USTAR mission — to move university research out of the lab for economic impact within the state. We’re particularly excited to see innovative research at USU supporting one of Utah’s most significant economic engines, the dietary supplement industry,” Goetz said in a statement.
Janet Bergeson, the clinic coordinator for the study, said people can still experience lesser effects from the air, including a burning feeling in their eyes and a shortness of breath.
The clinical study will be conducted at the USTAR BioInnovations Center located on the Utah State University Innovation Campus, which opened last year.
Recruitment is now under way — Cache Valley residents in general good health between the ages of 55 to 80 interested in participating in this study may visit http://anr.usu.edu for more information. Questions may be directed to 435-797-4226 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.