9/11 lung disease study suggests link to diet

Dr. Anna Nolan and her team at NYU School of Medicine looked at blood samples from some New York City firefighters who were exposed to the toxic dust at ground zero on September 11, 2001, and beyond. They found that some firefighters developed lung disease and some did not.

Those who did had abnormal levels of metabolites, which are chemicals that are produced in your body based on what you eat. Dr. Nolan said that their diet seemed to play a role in whether firefighters in the study group developed lung disease.

The medical team is conducting a new study in which some of the firefighters will be put on the Mediterranean diet of fish, olive oil, nuts, and vegetables to see if that improves their lung function.

In addition to the Mediterranean diet, the firefighters have to exercise. If the results are positive, Dr. Nolan said the information can help the rest of us possibly improve our health.