A doctor’s guide to lung health | Dr MeiLan Han

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In Episode #220, Dr MeiLan Han joins me to discuss the lungs and respiratory system.

“Even brief exposures to bad air are probably causing measurable amounts of lung inflammation that could, even just in the short term, put you at increased risk for things like respiratory infections.”

Despite being an incredibly important factor of our overall health, the respiratory system is often overlooked. Most people’s knowledge is surface level, and we aren’t educated on the importance of the lungs or how to best support respiratory health. Dr MeiLan Han joins me in this episode to explain what the respiratory system is, how it works, and what we can do to optimise it.

Dr MeiLan Han is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Michigan. She is also a spokesperson for the American Lung Association and author of Breathing Lessons: A Doctor’s Guide to Lung Health. On top of many other achievements, she has authored over 300 publications in numerous journals. As an incredibly well-informed medical practitioner and researcher, her insights in this episode open the conversation around lung health and offer valuable advice you can implement.

“I truly believe that undiagnosed lung inflammation, lung injury, and lung disease contributed to the huge variation in illness severity that we saw in Covid-19.”

In this episode, Dr Han establishes what the respiratory system is and how it works. We discuss the prevalence of lung conditions, Covid-19 and its impact on the respiratory system, and air quality. We also discuss healthy habits for pregnancy, the effects of smoking and vaping on lung health, diet, and how to reduce exposure to toxic compounds.

Specifically, we cover:

  • Intro [0:00]
  • Breathing Lessons: The Book [2:09]
  • Meilan’s Story [5:59]
  • Importance of Lung Awareness [11:07]
  • Lung Tests [24:25]
  • Impact of Covid [29:57]
  • How the Lungs Work [33:32]
  • Childhood Lung Health [44:52]
  • Air Quality [53:55]
  • Cleansing the Lungs [1:15:20]
  • COPD [1:19:47]
  • Final Thoughts [1:27:32]
  • Outro [1:29:35]

Dr MeiLan Han offers incredible clarity to an area many of us are under-educated on. I hope you found her insights helpful and are able to implement some of her suggestions into your own lifestyle.

If you are interested in learning more about lung health, Dr Han’s book is the perfect resource. You can find her book, Breathing Lessons: A Doctor’s Guide to Lung Health, here. You can also connect with Dr Han on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Her website, www.drmeilanhan.com/, contains more information and trusted resources.

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Enjoy, friends.


More about MeiLan Han, MD, MS

MeiLan Han, MD MS, is a Professor of Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care at the University of Michigan. Dr. Han received her medical degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. She completed her residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Han has also completed a Master’s Degree program in Biostatistics and Clinical Study Design at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.  She is also Director of the Michigan Airways Program.

Dr. Han is co-chair of the University of Michigan COPD Quality Improvement Committee and co-authored the University of Michigan COPD Guidelines. Dr. Han’s research has focused on defining phenotypes in COPD using imaging. She is a lead investigator for several NIH sponsored COPD studies. She also serves on the scientific advisory committees for both the COPD Foundation and American Lung Association and serves as a spokesperson for the American Lung Association. She is currently an Associate Editor for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and serves on the editorial boards for Thorax, Lancet Respiratory Medicine and Journal of the COPD Foundation. She is also a member of the Global Obstructive Lung Disease scientific committee which is charged with developing internationally an internationally recognized consensus statement on COPD diagnosis and management.

Dr. Han has authored over 300 publications in numerous journals including the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Chest, Lancet Respiratory Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, New England Journal of Medicine, and Journal of Clinical Investigation. She is currently a Deputy Editor for the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Han is the author of Breathing Lessons: A Doctor’s Guide to Lung Health, a guide to respiratory health for the public.

Dr. Han has been recognized with many honors and awards. She received the European Respiratory Society GOLD Medal in COPD in 2017, the University of Michigan Dean’s Clinical and Health Services Research Award in 2019, and the Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research Distinguished Clinical and Translational Research Mentor Award in 2021. Dr. Han is also an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.

Additional resources

  • Lung-Function Trajectories Leading to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease PMID: 26154786

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