Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations
Several epidemiological studies have analyzed associations between dietary factors and fibroid development. Women who consume greater quantities of vegetables, fruits, and dairy products appear to have a decreased risk of developing fibroids (He 2013; Wise 2011; Wise 2010) whereas women who consume more beef, ham, or other red meats may have an increased risk of developing fibroids (Trivedi 2009; Chiaffarino 1999).
Glycemic index is a measure of a food’s ability to increase blood glucose levels compared to a carbohydrate such as glucose or white bread. Glycemic load is a measure arrived at by multiplying the glycemic index of a serving of food by the grams of carbohydrates it contains. An analysis of over 21 000 African-American women reported that those with a higher dietary glycemic index or glycemic load may have a slightly increased risk of developing fibroids. Additional analysis found that African-American women under the age of 35 years with a high glycemic load diet also had an increased risk of uterine fibroids (Radin 2010).
Women who exercise appear to have a reduced risk of developing fibroids (Elsevier BV 2011). A dose-response pattern is apparent, such that women who exercise seven hours or more per week reduce their risk more than women who exercise two hours or less per week (Baird 2007). The effects of exercise on fibroid growth may be due to loss of body fat. Studies have shown that women who exercise and reduce their body fat by more than 2% have reduced levels of the sex hormones testosterone, estrone, and estradiol (Brown 2012). Exercise also reduces levels of insulin and IGFs (Aarnio 2001). These combined effects may decrease a woman’s risk of developing uterine fibroids (Elsevier BV 2011).