Kids MD - Antioxidants & Asthma

By Yvette J. Brown
CWK Network

“There are studies that say antioxidants work and there are some that say antioxidants don't help. The jury is still out.”
- Dr. Kathleen Sheerin, asthma and allergy specialist -

For as many as six million kids, life with asthma is sometimes hard.

"It's like somebody [is] squeezing on your chest and you can't breathe," describes 10-year-old Bruce.

Scott, also ten, says trying to breathe during an attack "seems like there's just like a tiny air hole that you are trying to suck through."

A Cornell University study of 6,000 kids looked at the effects of antioxidants on asthma.

"So basically they looked at vitamin C, beta carotene and selenium. And what they looked at was to see if levels of these vitamins in the blood made any difference," explains Dr. Kathleen Sheerin, an asthma and allergy specialist.

In fact, the antioxidants lowered the risk of developing asthma by at least 10 percent, and as much as 50 percent for kids exposed to cigarette smoke.

"Oxidants can cause damage to lung tissue," Sheerin says. "So was there actually some benefit, some protective mechanism that kept the cigarette smoke from actually damaging the lung tissue?"

Experts say even with this most recent study there are more questions than answers about the role antioxidants play in preventing and treating asthma.

"I just don't think we have enough information to say go out there and you must get 'x' amount of vitamin C in a day and you must get 'x' amount of selenium in your diet in order to prevent asthma," Sheerin continues.

So experts stop short of recommending vitamin supplements, in part because taking too much can be toxic. For now, the best treatment for asthma is still to follow your doctor's advice and hope that one day science offers something more.

"I wish there was, like, a cure," says nine-year old Erin. "You get one shot and that'd be all."

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