Health & Wellness

Diet Study May Find Ways to Breathe Easier on Smoggy Days

There are more than 100 days each year with poor air quality in Cache Valley, Utah. Poor air quality impacts health by limiting lung function and by weakening defenses against illness; children and the elderly are at higher risk.

A new partnership between the Applied Nutrition Research team at Utah State University and USANA Health Sciences, a Utah-based global nutritional supplement company, was announced this week. Clinical research to study the effects of nutritional supplementation to combat health consequences associated with Cache Valley’s poor air quality will begin soon.

Cache Valley experiences poor air quality most often during winter months when high-pressure systems act as a lid to trap pollutants from car exhaust and wood burning chimney fires. The problem isn’t specific to Cache Valley. Other areas of the state, including the Salt Lake Valley, experience poor air quality and lengthy inversions. Air pollution is a global issue.

Led by Michael Lefevre, a USTAR professor in USU’s College of Agriculture focusing on overall human health and personalized medicine, the USTAR-funded Applied Nutrition Research team will conduct the clinical research study to understand the connection between dietary antioxidants and the impact of PM2.5, small particulate pollution, on the respiratory systems of at-risk groups. Recruitment for the study begins immediately.

“PM2.5 lodges in the lung and causes irritation and inflammation,” says Dr. John Cuomo, USANA executive director of Research and Development. “This inflammation goes on to induct airway constriction and reduce lung function. Our supplement mix may significantly reduce the inflammatory cascade started by PM2.5 and maintain better lung function in supplemented subjects vs. placebo.”

The state-of-the-art USTAR BioInnovations Center located on the Utah State University Innovation Campus provides the research infrastructure for the clinical study.

“The partnership with Utah State University’s Applied Nutrition Research team and USANA allows USU to capitalize on sophisticated research facilities constructed as part of the USTAR initiative,” said Robert T. Behunin, vice president for Commercialization and Regional Development at USU.

“The partnership 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,” said Tamara Goetz, state science advisor, Governor’s office of Economic Development.

Utah’s supplement industry represents $6.1 billion in annual revenue, Goetz said.

According to Behunin, at Utah State University, every dollar spent on research generates an additional $.76 in economic value for the state. USANA is the first Utah company to partner with the Applied Nutrition Research USTAR team.

“This is a unique opportunity to work with top-notch scientists in a state-of-the-art research facility,” says Dan Macuga, USANA vice president of marketing, public relations and social media. “USANA is a company that values research and innovation, so we are excited to be a part of a scientific study that may have far-reaching health implications.”

The USTAR BioInnovations Center, a 110,000-square-foot research facility constructed as an investment by the Utah state legislature to build Utah’s knowledge economy through the construction of high-tech research facilities, was dedicated in October 2010. Research space includes a laboratory, a commercial kitchen as well as a medical clinic used to assess health of participants.

“The USTAR BioInnovations Center at Utah State University is an incredible resource that allows us the ability to conduct the sophisticated research required for clinical trials, such as this one,” said Lefevre.

Recruitment is now underway — Cache Valley residents in general good health between the ages of 55-80 who are interested in participating in the study may visit the website for more information. Questions may be directed to 435-797-4226 or by emailing

About USTAR: The Utah Science Technology and Research initiative (USTAR) is a long-term, state-funded investment to strengthen Utah's "knowledge economy” and generate high-paying jobs. Funded in March 2006 by the State Legislature, USTAR is based on three program areas. The first area involves funding for strategic investments at the University of Utah and Utah State University to recruit world-class researchers. The second area is to build state-of-the-art interdisciplinary facilities at these institutions for the innovation teams. The third program area involves teams that work with companies and entrepreneurs across the state to promote science, innovation and commercialization activities. More information about USTAR is online or follow USTAR on Twitter. For USU USTAR information, visit its website or follow on Twitter.

About USANA: USANA Health Sciences develops and manufactures high-quality nutritionals, personal care, energy and weight management products that are sold directly to Preferred Customers and Associates throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Mexico, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Additionally, USANA’s wholly-owned subsidiary, BabyCare, Ltd., operates a direct selling business in China. Learn more on its website, read the blog, follow them on Twitter@USANAInc, or like them on Facebook.


Utah State University Contact: Jacoba Mendelkow Poppleton, 435-797-9608,

USANA Health Sciences, Inc. Contact: Diana Yin, 801-954-7644,

USU's Old Main in inversion

A winter inversion in Cache Valley affects air quality. (photo by Anna McEntire)


Research 563stories Utah 289stories Health 212stories USTAR 64stories Nutrition 58stories

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