Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors that develop within or attach to the wall of the uterus. Also called fibromyomas, leiomyomas or myomas, uterine fibroids aren’t associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer. African-American women are over two to five times more likely to develop fibroids than women of other ethnic backgrounds. Research indicates that between 20 percent and 50 percent of women have fibroid-related symptoms. Common symptoms of fibroids (also called leiomyomas) include: abnormal uterine bleeding, pelvic pressure, pain in the legs, back or pelvis, anemia, fatigue or bleeding after intercourse. The hormones estrogen and progesterone are believed to help foster fibroid growth, but no one knows what triggers the process. Some literature points towards the ubiquitous amount of endocrine disruptors like xenoestrogens in our food and enviornment as a possible cause.
Exercise and Weight Loss
A recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology investigated the role of exercise in uterine fibroids and concluded that the more exercise may help prevent fibroids. According to renowned physician, alternative medicine researcher and author Dr. Andrew Weil, losing weight may help since estrogen is also produced in body fat. Similarly, minimizing consumption of foods containing added hormones (usually estrogens) may help. These include beef and dairy products.
According to Christiane Northrup, M.D., “Dairy products seem very much associated with menstrual cramps and heavy flow.” She also noted that many of her patients that had the most severe cases of endometriosis or fibroids were heavy consumers of pasteurized cow cheese, ice cream or milk. Several of her patients had their fibroids shrink after they eliminated these foods.
Diet, Environment and Estrogen
We recommend limiting animal products, and eating a mainly organic vegetarian diet to reduce your exposure to xenoestrogens (synthetic environmental hormones that mimic estrogen in the body) and other hormones in food. Besides organochlorine pesticides, xenoestrogens can also be found in plastic water bottles and containers, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals including the birth control pill, and household cleaning supplies. Phytoestrogens represent another class and are a group of plant-derived substances that are structurally or functionally similar to estradiol. Phytoestrogens are found in soy (notably geinstein and daidzein), grains (notably coumestrol), beans, legumes (coumestan in alfalfa), nuts, seeds, seed oils, berries, fruits, and vegetables. Phytoestrogens are only weakly estrogenic, having 1/10,000 (daidzein) to 1/100 (coumestrol) the activity per mole compared with 17ß estradiol and have positive health benefits. Mycoestrogens are estrogens produced by fungi, and can be found on stored grain which is sold in grocery stores or given to animals and can affect the milk (another reason to choose grass-fed!).
Eliminate: All dairy, beef, chicken, lamb, pork, soy milk, tofu, soy cheese, veggie burgers, citrus, alfalfa, wheat and eggs
Utilize: Black beans, anasazi beans, kidney beans, lentils, almonds and almond butter, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, wild salmon (2x a week), vegetables, fruits, coconut kefir and coconut water.
Recommended Supplementation for Fibroids
Helpful for blood sugar balancing and repair.
Speeds healing process and increases circulation.
Promotes immune function and healing of the tissues and is helpful with excessive bleeding.
4. Virgin Cod Liver Oil for Vitamin A, D and omega-3’s.
Women suffering from menorraghia are prone to becoming vitamin A deficient, which is crucial for tissue repair.
Heavy bleeding leads to heavy iron losses. Check with your doctor for your iron levels so you know how much to take.
- Baird DD, et al. Association of Physical Activity with Development of Uterine Leiomyoma. Am J Epidemiol. Jan 2007;165(2):157-63.
- Christine Duffy, MD, Kimberly Perez, MD and Ann Partridge, MD, MPH. Implications of Phytoestrogen Intake for Breast Cancer. CA Cancer J Clin 2007; 57:260-277
- Hunter et al. Influence of Exogenous Estrogen Receptor Ligands on Uterine Leiomyoma: Evidence from an in Vitro/in Vivo Animal Model for Uterine Fibroids. Environmental Health Perspectives; Oct., 2000, Vol. 108, Supplement 5, p829-834, 6p.