Can Diet Treat Or Even Prevent Fibroids?

In an earlier blog 1 we considered whether or not green tea has been shown to be effective in preventing and treating uterine fibroids. I mentioned that a future blog would consider whether eating a plant-based diet in general would also be of benefit. Well, here’s that promised blog…

Why try and prevent fibroids at all?

Although uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumour affecting the female reproductive system, they are also the leading indication for progressing to a hysterectomy every year 2 – and which woman wants to undergo such an invasive operation, with all its attendant risks and future health implications? Alarmingly, the prevalence of uterine fibroids (also known as leiomyoma) in women aged more than 35 years is 20%, while the prevalence increases to 51.2–60.0% in women aged 40–50 years 3 . Thus, these supposedly benign tumours are actually a significant health concern in women. It’s considered by the following researchers that “As the incidence of uterine fibroids is increasing, more attention should be paid to the prevention of uterine fibroids.

The research we’re going to look at in this blog is a 2016 study 4 by the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Zhongda Hospital in Nanjing, China. They looked at whether a vegetarian diet correlates with a potential reduced risk of uterine fibroids. Again, I’ll stress that a vegetarian diet (or even a vegan diet) is not as going to be as healthy as a WFPB diet.

Study method

They considered 600 cases of Chinese Han women with uterine fibroids (case group) whose clinical diagnosis dated back no more than 1 year. They then compared with a matching 600 patient-control who didn’t have uterine fibroids (control group). The information was gathered through a detailed questionnaire survey which was then analysed to determine risk factors of the uterine fibroids pathogenesis.

Study results

What they found was rather interesting. Those women with uterine fibroids (the case group) reported eating a significant amount less of the following plant foods than the women without uterine fibroids (the control group):

  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage
  • tomato
  • apple

Study conclusion

The researchers concluded that: “…a high consumption of broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, tomato and apple seems to be a protective factor for uterine fibroids. We suggest that greater intake of fresh fruits and cruciferous vegetables may be able to reduce the incidence of uterine fibroids.

If you fancy delving into Dr Greger‘s valuable thoughts on this subject, he touches on it (as well as the subject of polyps 5 ) in various videos and articles 6 7 8 9 10 .

Final thoughts

I’m not a great one for just concentrating attention on just one particular plant or even a group of plants at the exclusion of eating a diet exclusively consisting of whole plant foods. Dr Greger has his Daily Dozen 11 and Dr Fuhrman has his G-BOMBS 12 , I use both lists as well as incorporating into my diet as much variety of plant foods as I can find – including as wide a variety of herbs and spices as possible.

We are only aware of a small fraction of the phytonutrients contained in plant foods, let alone of the myriad interactions between these chemicals when combined in a diet consumed over decades. And while research has a long way to go, perhaps the safest option is to look at what is eaten by the healthiest and longest-lived populations on the planet (the so-called ‘blue zones‘ 13 14 15 ) – lots of plant foods and negligible amounts of animal or processed foods.


References

  1. Can Green Tea Treat Fibroids? []
  2. Parker WH. Etiology, symptomatology and diagnosis of uterine myomas. Fertil Steril 2007; 87: 725–736. []
  3. Shen Y, Xu Q, Ren M, Feng X, Cai Y, Gao Y. Measurement of phenolic environmental estrogens in women with uterine leiomyoma. PLoS One 2013; 8: e79838. []
  4. J Obstet Gynaecol Res. 2016 Jan;42(1):87-94. doi: 10.1111/jog.12834. Epub 2015 Oct 12. Vegetarian diet and reduced uterine fibroids risk: A case-control study in Nanjing, China. Shen Y, Wu Y, Lu Q, Ren M. []
  5. FTC:What is the Difference Between Uterine Polyps vs. Fibroids? []
  6. nutritionfacts.org: chickpeas []
  7. nutritionfacts.org: curcumin []
  8. nutritionfacts.org: best diet for fibroids []
  9. nutritionfacts.org: video – best diet for fibroids []
  10. nutritionfacts.org: polyps []
  11. Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen []
  12. Dr Fuhrman’s G_BOMBS []
  13. The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner. []
  14. Chen J, Campbell TC, Li J, Peto R. A Study of Diet Nutrition and Disease in the People’s Republic of China. University of Oxford Press, Cornell University Press, China Publishing House, 1988. []
  15. Diet, nutrition and cancer: Executive summary. Cancer Research 1983;43:3020. []