Can diet and vitamins be factors in uterine fibroids?

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Although uterine fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomas, are not cancerous, they can still cause significant pain, heavy menstrual bleeding and even anemia.¹ Your patients may want to know how to alleviate the risk of developing these growths.

When considering factors that may increase or decrease the risk of fibroids, your patients may be faced with diet and nutrition. Research has suggested that nutrition may be a risk factor for leiomyoma, and recent studies have evaluated specific foods and vitamins to identify their respective impacts on fibroid growth and development. What were the investigators’ conclusions?

How diet affects fibroid risk

A 2021 study published in Nutrients examined the potential impact of diet and nutrition on a number of gynecological disorders, including uterine leiomyomas.² The researchers found that certain foods had consistent protective factors against fibroid development, while d other foods had a weak or inconsistent correlation.

Fruits and vegetables are the foods that have demonstrated the most consistent protective effects against fibroids. Apples, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli and cabbage are notable examples. The researchers also found that quantity or portions played a role; women who consumed several weekly servings of fruits and vegetables had a lower risk compared to women who consumed only one weekly serving.

Green tea, and specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a flavonoid from green tea, has shown the potential to reduce both leiomyoma growth and symptom severity while improving related quality of life. to health. Conversely, the researchers suggest that higher alcohol consumption may be associated with an increased risk of developing fibroids.

Foods like meat, fish, grains, caffeine, and dairy have been found to have inconsistent correlations with fibroids.

How Vitamins and Nutrients Affect Fibroid Risk

For many of these foods, any indication that they may affect leiomyoma development is due to the vitamins and nutrients they contain. Different vitamins have varying effects. According to a 2022 study in Nutrients which focused on natural compounds and vitamins as possible factors in the growth and development of fibroids, the vitamin with the most statistically significant effect on fibroids is vitamin D.³ Vitamin D deficiency was strongly correlated with a increased risk of fibroids because it can increase cell stimulation and growth. Vitamins A, E, and C showed no consistent correlation with leiomyoma development.

While acknowledging that more research is needed, the researchers suggested that consuming dairy and probiotics in yogurt could potentially produce protective effects.

Fruits and vegetables are so highly recommended in part because they contain carotenoids, indole-3-carbinol, and flavonoids like quercetin. A combination of these substances with the aforementioned benefits of vitamin D and EGCG has shown the potential to reduce symptoms of fibroids.

References

1. Uterine fibroids – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288. Updated September 16, 2021. Accessed May 3, 2022.

2. Afrin S, AlAshqar A, El Sabeh M, et al. Diet and nutrition in gynecological disorders: focus on clinical studies. Nutrients. 2021;13(6):1747. Published May 21, 2021. doi:10.3390/nu13061747

3. Szydłowska I, Nawrocka-Rutkowska J, Brodowska A, Marciniak A, Starczewski A, Szczuko M. Natural dietary compounds and vitamins as potential cofactors in the growth and development of uterine fibroids. Nutrients. 2022;14(4):734. Published February 9, 2022. doi:10.3390/nu14040734

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