northwestern medicine

Millennials Needed for Groundbreaking New Study on Lung Health, Illness

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Doctors at Northwestern Medicine and the American Lung Association are seeking to better understand what causes lung damage and disease, and to do so they are launching a first-ever study of the lungs of thousands of millennials.

Lindy Olive, 28, like so many others, hasn’t really given her lungs a second thought.

“It wasn't really until I got COVID that I started thinking about myself and my own lung health,” Olive said.

That’s one of the reasons she signed up to be part of the sweeping study, looking at the lungs of thousands of millennials.

Researchers say they chose that age group for a reason.

“It's really important that we enroll young adults right now at the time of their peak lung health, so that we can study the behaviors, the social factors, the environmental factors that are contributing to the development of lung diseases,” said Mercedes Carnethon, Vice Chair of Preventative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine and Study Principal Investigator.

Doctors and researchers at 40 sites nationwide are recruiting 4,000 adults between the ages of 25 and 35 to take part.

With various laboratory tests, questionnaires and imaging, the goal of the first of its kind study is to analyze how environment, lifestyle and physical activity impact the lungs.

“Even what we do know is kind of outdated information. Now, we need to know about today's exposures and what they're going to do in the long term going forward,” said Dr. Ravi Kalhan, Northwestern Medicine Pulmonologist and Study Principal Investigator.

The study will follow participants for five years, with the hope of getting sustained funding for many more years in the future.

“So that we can follow our participants forward and really understand the determinants of respiratory health across the life course,” Dr. Kalhan said.

There are currently 140 millennials signed up and thousands more are needed. You can more information on the study's website.

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