Happy New Year everyone, and Happy Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!
Today I wanted to talk about uterine fibroids and nutrition, so go on start reading!
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas, myomas, or fibromyomas) are benign tumours or an abnormal growth of cells that grow within the smooth muscular tissue of the uterus. They can be different shapes and sizes, and grow in or out of the uterus. They are estrogen-dependent tumours.
Common fibroid symptoms?
Not everyone who has fibroids will deal with symptoms, therefore depending on the severity of the fibroids some may experience some, none, or all of the following symptoms.
What puts you more at risk?
There are four common risk factors:
Age - They are more common in women aged 30-40 (pre-menopausal). Remember it is estrogen-dependent so after menopause they usually go away. They can also occur in younger age groups.
Heredity - Your sister and/or mother have fibroids. Chances are you may develop them too.
Race - Black women are more likely to have fibroids, they tend to have larger tumors, get them at a younger age, and have more severe symptoms in comparison to other ethnic groups.
Obesity/Unhealthy increased weight - Women at a higher unhealthy weight are more likely to develop fibroids.
Is there any way to get rid of fibroids?
For individuals who suffer severe symptoms, currently the most invasive and standard procedue is a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). There are however other forms of treatment that individuals may undergo prior to this procedure.
Now you're probably wondering if these are the most common forms of treatment taken, why is a dietitian even talking about it. Well, nutritionally speaking there has been some research gone into understanding how nutrition can impact fibroid development.
There's been a lot of research over the years but there is not enough to establish a causal relationship (A → B).
BUT there is evidence that one's diet can influence fibroid growth. Therefore, this is a super interesting area being researched currently!
Here's what we know so far!
Any nutritional recommendation that can help lower peripheral fat stores, may help lower estrone/estrogen levels resulting in less onset symptoms. Usually encouraging some weight loss for those who are overweight is the first approach to take.
Bougie, O., Chen, I., & Singh, S. (2016). Influence of diet on development of fibroids and endometriosis, analysis of the national health and nutrition examination survey. Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology, 23(7), S111-S111. doi:10.1016/j.jmig.2016.08.273
Tempest, M., RD. (2012). Uterine Fibroids and Nutrition - Studies Suggest Healthful Dietary Modifications May Cut Risk and Ease Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/050112p40.shtml