False Hope: Fibroid Diet Myths
Large Fibroids Risk Damage to the Uterus If Not Removed
There are many conflicting studies about what to eat and what not to eat if you have fibroids. A fibroid diet may help control fibroids from growing in the first place, but once they are in the uterus and are showing signs of growing, the effects of diet changes either don’t work or are short-lived.
Many studies about the link between nutrition and fibroids provide conflicting information. The confusion and frustration are compounded by the fact that many women look to their peers for advice on diets for fibroids rather than working with a GYN specialist. Hormones levels are often different from person to person, and changes in diet may only have a small effect on fibroid growth.
For a nutrition plan that works for your individual case, work with a qualified nutritionist in the CIGC Wellness Center.
Fibroid growth is unpredictable, and they can get very large, very fast in some women. Many times doctors will tell a patient to “watch and wait” rather than recommend fibroid removal surgery. Women whose smaller fibroids could have been easily treated early on may now face bigger problems, including distortion of the uterus, more severe pain and bleeding or problems with getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term. When caught early, a minimally invasive myomectomy can be a good option for women who wish to maintain fertility.
Contradictions from One Fibroid Diet Study to the Next
Three studies with three different findings: Animal products and vitamin A.
- Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche Mario Negri, Milan, Italy: Significant consumption of beef and other reds meats (1.7-fold) or ham (1.3-fold) is associated with an increased relative risk of fibroids. Consumption of green vegetables (0.5-fold) and fruit (especially citrus fruit) is associated with a decreased risk of fibroids.
- Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University: Dietary vitamin A from animal sources may also be associated with decreased fibroid risk.
- Channing Laboratory, the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School: Dietary consumption of carotenoids (responsible for the bright red, yellow and orange pigments in fruits and vegetables) is not associated with a change in risk for uterine leiomyoma unless the patient is a smoker.
Nutritional background: The two forms of vitamin A that are available in the human diet are preformed vitamin A (retinol and its esterified form, retinyl ester) and provitamin A carotenoids. Preformed vitamin A is found in foods from animal sources, including dairy products, fish and meat (especially liver). By far the most important provitamin A carotenoid is beta-carotene; other provitamin A carotenoids are alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. The body converts these plant pigments into vitamin A.
What Does This Mean?
Eat more vegetables. Avoid carrots. Eat liver. Don’t eat liver. Eat more vegetables…except carrots. Don’t forget to eat your carrots. What?
- NIH: With regard to caffeine intake among women younger than 35, the highest categories of caffeinated coffee (≥3 cups/day) and caffeine intake (≥500 mg/day) were both associated with increased fibroid risk.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Caffeine consumption is not related to risk.
Put down the cup of coffee! Drink up!
Estrogen and Large Fibroids
The ovaries are responsible for the largest production of estrogen in a woman’s body. The effect diet changes can have on the amount of estrogen produced by the ovaries is small.
When it comes to large fibroids, diet options to try to reduce them are nonexistent. Once fibroids grow to the point of changing the shape of the uterus, the amount of shrinkage that could occur with diet (or a medication like Lupron) will not be significant enough to affect daily life or long-term fertility. Any shrinking that occurs would be acceptable to help with preparing a patient for surgery, but it is not permanent.
Sparing the Uterus: LAAM Minimally Invasive Myomectomy
For women who are not done having children, minimally invasive fibroid removal surgery is the best option for maintaining fertility and for ensuring a baby can grow safely in the womb through a full-term pregnancy. Women have found fibroids that grow while they are pregnant can affect the term of the pregnancy and the safety of the baby. Women with fibroids who have difficulty getting pregnant may improve their chances of conceiving naturally or through in vitro fertilization after the fibroids are removed.
Women who are close to menopause or who are done childbearing may decide it is better to have a hysterectomy. With a hysterectomy, there is no chance for fibroids to regrow.
The minimally invasive GYN surgeons at The Center for Innovative GYN Care work with patients to discuss the best option for treating fibroids based on their personal goals for fertility or their wish to keep their uterus. The groundbreaking LAAM procedure is one of the most minimally invasive fibroid removal surgeries that spares the uterus. Most patients recover in one to two weeks. Compared to open myomectomy procedures with a recovery in as many as eight weeks, women who have a LAAM myomectomy return to their lives faster with less pain.
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GYN surgical specialists can often see women sooner than a standard OBGYN because they are focused entirely on surgery. Each patient gets detailed, in-depth attention from Dr. Natalya Danilyants and Dr. Paul J. MacKoul. This personalized care helps patients understand their condition and the recommended treatment so they can have confidence from the very start. Our surgeons have performed over 25,000 GYN procedures and are constantly finding ways to improve outcomes for patients.
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Women looking for a GYN specialist for a laparoscopic hysterectomy, endometriosis excision or fibroid removal travel to CIGC from around the world.
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