Uterine fibroids, also called leiomyomas or myomas, are noncancerous muscle tumors that appear as growths either inside, within the walls of, or on the uterus. They are swirls of muscle fibers that are the uterine equivalent of knots in a pine tree and can be as small as a pea or as large as a basketball. And depending on their location, they can cause a lot of problems for women. Everything from pain to increased bleeding to infertility.
If they are small and don’t cause a problem, they can be left alone. But since they are present on 75 to 80% of women, and often require surgery to remove them, (though there are some medications that can shrink them), it seemed very worthwhile to talk about some nutritional studies that have been shown to shrink uterine fibroids.
You should know that some of what you are eating might affect your fibroids…
Can Food Prevent Fibroids?
A study in the journal Nutrients found that fruits and vegetables consistently protected against developing fibroids. In particular, apples citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage were among the most protective. Including these fruits and vegetables into the diet of women in the study several times per week was more protective than eating them only once per week. Other foods were not helpful in protecting against fibroids.
Other commonly eaten foods like meat, fish, grains, and caffeine and dairy were not found to be consistently helpful or harmful.
In contrast, other studies have shown that a low consumption of fruits and green vegetables, low vitamin D levels, and pollutants ingested with foods are linked to a higher risk of forming uterine fibroids.
Is it the Food or the Vitamins in them that Affect Fibroids?
It seems from the studies that it is the vitamins and nutrients within the different foods that provides the magic. One recent study in the journal Nutrients found that the vitamin with the most provable impact on fibroids is vitamin D. Women with vitamin D deficiency had a much greater fibroid risk. It appears vitamin D can both increase cell stimulation and cell growth. In contrast, vitamins A, E, and C did not correlate with fibroid development.
The researchers also suggested that yogurt containing probiotics and other sources of probiotics may also be beneficial, but it is too early to say that with certainty.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line in this article is that fibroids are extremely common. Not everyone who has them will be bothered by them, but a significant percentage of women will require some type of treatment to relieve them of the symptoms of fibroids. Fruits and vegetables are increasingly being recognized for their health benefits. They appear to improve depression, lower the risk for certain cancers and diabetes, and even beneficial for the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. So eating lots of fruits and vegetables weekly may help reduce your risk of getting fibroids and lowering the chances they will be symptomatic. In addition, green tea with EGCG and vitamin D may actually offer relief from symptomatic fibroids.
Certainly worth a try if you either have or are at risk for fibroids.
1. Uterine fibroids – symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/uterine-fibroids/symptoms-causes/syc-20354288. Accessed November 7, 2022.
2. Afrin S, AlAshqar A, El Sabeh M, et al. Diet and Nutrition in Gynecological Disorders: A Focus on Clinical Studies. Nutrients. 2021;13(6):1747. Published 2021 May 21. doi:10.3390/nu13061747. Accessed November 7, 2022
3. Szydłowska I, Nawrocka-Rutkowska J, Brodowska A, Marciniak A, Starczewski A, Szczuko M. Dietary Natural Compounds and Vitamins as Potential Cofactors in Uterine Fibroids Growth and Development. Nutrients. 2022;14(4):734. Published 2022 Feb 9. doi:10.3390/nu14040734. Accessed November 7, 2022
4. Forillo, S. Can Diet and Vitamins Be Factors in Uterine Fibroids? Clinical Advisor, Published May 22, 2022. Accessed November 7, 2022.
5. Andrea Tinelli, Marina Vinciguerra, Antonio Malvasi, et al. Uterine Fibroids and Diet. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb; 18(3): 1066. Published online 2021 Jan 25. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18031066. Accessed November 7, 2022.