Study: 9/11 first responders' diet may help prevent lung disease

Researchers at the NYU School of Medicine say they have discovered that what a 9/11 first responder eats may play a major role in whether they develop lung disease as a result of being exposed to the toxic dust from Ground Zero.

The researchers say they have been following 14,000 first responders since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, analyzing blood samples and finding that certain first responders did not develop lung disease.

“Firefighters that were protected from this loss of lung function had higher levels of N3 fatty acids in their blood that was sampled within 200 days of 9/11,” said Anna Nolan, of the NYU-Langone School of Medicine and the study’s lead researcher.

The N3, which is Omega-3 fatty acids, are commonly found in salmon and mackerel. 

“This allows us to potentially identify people who are at risk early on, who may benefit from treatment early on or who may eventually go on to lose lung function and would benefit from being identified earlier,” Nolan said.

Nolan says she hopes to one day develop a blood test that can be used to screen first responders and disaster victims after they are exposed to toxins.