Health Concerns

Uterine Fibroids

Dietary Suggestions

If organic fruits and vegetables are available and affordable to the consumer, their consideration is likely indicated. Health practitioners recommend a diet centered on whole foods, with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains being emphasized. Lignins, found in all whole grains, are antiestrogenic. Lignins are present in decreasing order in flaxseed, rye, buckwheat, millet, oats, barley, corn, rice, and wheat.

Fiber-rich diets can assist in extracting excessive estrogen stores from the body. The positive effects of a high-fiber compared to a low-fiber diet (28 grams daily compared to 12 grams) were illustrated when fecal weight and fecal excretion of estrogens in the vegetarian's diet were contrasted to that of non-vegetarian (eating both animal and vegetable substances) (Goldin 1982). Foods thought best to be avoided, either because of their low-fiber content or history of promoting fibroid growth, include dairy products, red meat, fried fatty foods, sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol.

Much debate has focused on whether soy products should be included in the diet of women with estrogen excess. Genistein and daidzein, both regarded as isoflavones, appear in soy and have estrogen activity. Researchers, representing the "pro" and "con" of the estrogen debate, present their views with conviction. In countries where soy is a main part of the diet, there are claims that reproductive tract disease is less frequent than in regions or cultures where soy is not included in the diet. The premise is that the weaker estrogen constituents of soy bind to the estrogen receptor, making less available to the binding site for the stronger, more ominous estrogen. Conversely, it appears that menarche (the onset of the menses or the menstrual period) may actually be hastened in the precocious child who uses soy products. Because of the dichotomies regarding soy usage, it is considered wise to avoid large amounts of genistein in conditions that are estrogen-receptor positive.

A more slender frame may benefit women with fibroids as well. Judicious under-eating may be beneficial to the uterus, providing less quantities of estrogen by way of lessening the over-consumption of hormone-rich foodstuffs.

Additional Suggestions

Nutritional supplementation for uterine fibroids should include antiestrogenic substances such as flavonoids which have 1/400-1/50 000 the estrogenic effect that synthetic estrogen has. Flavonoids contribute very little to the total body supply of estrogen. Various herbs (saw palmetto, historically used for benign prostatic hyperplasia), lady's mantle, chaste tree berries, and yarrow flowers have been cited for their antiestrogenic values. Other supplements recommended for uterine fibroids include immune-enhancing nutrients such as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), vitamin C, zinc, arginine/lysine combination, maitake mushrooms, and vitamin A. The antioxidant activity of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and selenium is also recommended.

As a possible addition to a nutritional protocol, a woman with fibroids should consider pancreatic enzymes. Pancreatic enzymes have many uses, but when used to reduce unusual cell, tissue, or muscle mass (such as in cancer and fibroids), pancreatic enzymes should be consumed between meals. Although not universally accepted, the logic behind using pancreatic enzymes is that the enzymes will digest fibrous/smooth muscle tissue and dissolve fibroids. When taken with food, pancreatic enzymes assist in digestion and do not resolve tissue.