When women tell me they are suffering with fibroids, my heart sinks. I only know through listening how awful it must be. Surprisingly, the likelihood of developing uterine fibroids, if you are female, is almost 50% by the age of 50. That is significant, isn’t it? You might be surprised to learn that fibroids are very much linked to diet. Read on to find out how uterine fibroids are linked to the very foods our national guidelines tell us to eat….
Fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus) can cause pelvic pain, back pain and even leg pain. They are known to cause excessive and extended menstrual bleeding, trouble with urination, including increased frequency and difficulty emptying the bladder. They have even been linked to constipation. Worse, fibroids may impair fertility.
Who needs all of this? No one. No thanks. And the trouble is there are limited and less than desirable ways to deal with them. One may be able to get a “myomectomy”, which is the removal of the fibroids themselves, through either laparoscopic surgery or with an open incision of the abdominal wall. Another is “uterine artery embolization”, where the arteries feeding the fibroid are injected with, and plugged with small beads of polyvinal alcohol, starving the tissue of a blood supply. Alternatively, one might have to get a full hysterectomy: the removal of the entire uterus. Pharmaceutical interventions include drugs that essentially turn off estrogen production from the ovaries.
Call me crazy, but if your body is still producing estrogen, there is a good chance it is natural and right. Our bodies are smart. Which brings me to my next point. The medical field will tell you that there is no known cause of fibroids. Doctors do not know why women get them. What we do know, however, is that fibroids develop and grow in the presence of estrogen. The more estrogen, the more they develop. When estrogen levels decrease, fibroids shrink.
The big question remains whether or not our own estrogen causes fibroids. The best evidence we have suggests that our bodies (in a state of optimal health) are far more reliable than that. As stated above, fibroids are dependent on high levels of estrogen. The greatest sources may surprise you. Countries eating the Standard American Diet have the highest rates of Uterine Fibroids. Lets take a look at some factors that may affect the growth of these nasty things!
- Dairy Products: As you might know, cows are milked throughout their pregnancies. By end-stage pregnancy, estrogen levels are 33 times the levels of non-pregnant cow milk. Be sure that as soon as possible following the birth of a calf, cows are artificially inseminated and the pregnancy cycle ensues again. All milk is pooled for processing and as such, estrogen levels are very high in cow milk. Remember, this is animal estrogen, identical to human estrogen, and has the same effect on the human body as human estrogen does, This is unlike the protective phytoestrogens found in plants. The more dairy in your diet, the more estrogen. And we are talking significant levels of estrogen, so much so that boys who drink cow milk have lower testosterone levels and greater risks of developing testicular and prostate cancers. Girls regularly drinking cow milk start menstruation earlier. Dairy is also linked to hormonal cancers in women, specifically breast cancer, uterine an ovary cancers. So, if you have fibroids, the number one way to decrease the estrogen levels in your body is to eliminate dairy products.
- Animal Fat : Animal fat found in meat, contains estrogen. Fat cells are storage for toxins and waste products and hormones as well. In fact, adipose tissue (fat) is now considered a major endocrine gland. Even the leanest cuts of meat are a minimum of 30% fat, so when you eat meat, you consume the estrogen stored in fat. Even the animal byproducts are laced with estrogen. Chicken manure contains so much estrogen that when it’s waste products are fed to farm animals to save on feed costs, it may trigger premature development.
- Human Fat: To add to this discussion around fat, we need to note that we are animals too. Our fat also produces its own estrogen hormones. The more excess fat we carry, the more estrogen that fat produces. Maintaining a healthy body weight balances the estrogen in our body.
- Prevention and Reversal of Fibroids: To be clear, fibroids are estrogen-dependent. Their growth is stimulated by estrogen. Given the link between estrogen and hormone-related cancers, fibroids, then, may be a warning sign of even worse things to come. Those at greatest risk of developing fibroids are women who have not yet gone through menopause, who consume dairy products (especially) and meat as well, and who are carrying extra fat. Studies show that fibroid risk decreases with increased intake of cruciferous vegetables and fruit. In a nutshell, a clean, whole foods, vegan diet, the elimination of animal foods, along with maintenance of an optimal weight, is your best bet in the prevention and elimination of uterine fibroids.