Public Release: 

Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism presents firefighter health study

Human immune response in wildland firefighters study to be presented at American College of Sports Medicine

Strategic Communications

MISSOULA--

The Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism (Montana WPEM) will present a human clinical study at the Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, showing that wildland firefighters who consumed a yeast based (beta glucan) antioxidant supplement, Wellmune WGP®, had far fewer - 23 percent - upper respiratory tract infections, compared to a similar group of firefighters taking a placebo.

Montana WPEM Director Brent C. Rudy said, "Wildland fire suppression crew health is a top concern. We are looking for a way to give the people, who do this demanding, intense work a nutritional 'edge'-a way to stay healthy under very difficult, almost combat-like conditions.

"The results of the firefighters study show a strong statistical trend that subjects who used Wellmune WGP® had better physical health - 23 percent fewer upper respiratory tract infections such as, fever, headaches, weakness, coughing, sneezing and stuffy noses," Ruby said "The results are consistent with previous clinical research involving marathoners, individuals with high stress lifestyles and the general population."

In a single-blind, random, cross-over design, 54 wildland firefighters from the Bitterroot Hotshots and Great Northern Crews were given Wellmune WGP® or placebo for 14 days, followed by a three-day washout (one word: washout) period and another 14-day treatment period. During the course of treatments, subjects kept daily health logs recording cold and flu symptoms and overall feelings of well-being. If subjects recorded any cold symptom (runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, colored discharge) or flu symptom (fever, headache, general aches and pains, fatigue and weakness, chest discomfort, cough) for two consecutive days, they were classified with an upper respiratory tract infection.

There was a strong statistical trend favoring the use of Wellmune WGP® for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections. Forty-eight percent of the firefighters experienced an upper respiratory tract infection while taking the placebo, but only 37 percent had an upper respiratory tract infection while taking Wellmune WGP®. Additionally, there was strong statistical significance in the wildland firefighter's perceived health.

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The research was supported by an unrestricted grant from Biothera, The Immune Health Company, (http://www.biothera.com) and Air Force Laboratories, FA8650-06-679.

Contact: Brent C. Ruby, Ph.D., FACSM, director, Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism (Montana WPEM), 406-243-2117, brent.ruby@mso.umt.edu.

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