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Myth V Fact: Your Diet Can “Cure” Fibroids Naturally? (No Surgery)

June 12, 2024

This article examines whether your diet can cure fibroids naturally and without medical interventions like surgery, alternatives or drugs.

Options for a fibroids natural diet include fruit, vegetables, lean beef and chicken, fish, dairy, nuts etc Moderation is key, though.

By exploring some ideas around fibroids and their association with food, we could see if they could help prevent the growth of fibroids and produce a cure.

You may hear a lot of conflicting things about food and fibroids.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that someone has told you foods can cure fibroids, but doctors don’t like telling you this because we want to make money from prescribing expensive drugs or surgery.

Well, I’m a GP (family physician) without drug company affiliations. I also don’t perform surgery for fibroids. 

In this post, I’ll explain what doctors really think about food and fibroids and look into how certain foods affect fibroids.

My take is bias-free and – backed by, you guessed it – scientific data! Let’s begin:

What Causes Fibroids

Fibroids are benign growths of the womb tissue.

Fibroids are the most common benign gynaecological tumour.

They happen mostly in women of childbearing age, and we tend to see them more often from the age of 30. Women could still have fibroids after the menopause.

What causes fibroids?

Well, that is a million-dollar question because we don’t know the answer fully.

We believe fibroids grow or develop due to hormone imbalance, mainly affecting progesterone and oestrogen, the reproductive hormones.

However, excess oestrogen or progesterone alone does not explain fibroid growth. Other factors affect the development of fibroids.

We’ve talked about age already, but there is genetics – as you may have fibroids if other women in your family also have it.

Being overweight has been implicated, as has smoking and high blood pressure.

Diet’s role in chronic conditions

But what about food?

First, our food can indeed affect our overall health.

Not just in the quantity but the quality and type of food also matters.

We know about the effect of antioxidants and inflammation on disease, and eating certain foods can promote this in conditions like heart disease, diabetes and, yes, fibroids.

 So now, let’s look at the facts when it comes to foods and fibroids!

Red Meat/Fish

The first claim is that eating red meat worsens fibroid symptoms. Myth or Fact? 

Let’s examine this a little. Some studies suggest a potential link between excess beef or red meat and the development of fibroids, but the evidence needs to be more conclusive.

(That means some studies say there’s a link, others say there isn’t.)

This may be due to the different dietary composition of beef in different countries.

For instance, there was a low risk of fibroids with red meat in Chinese women but a high risk in Italian women. 

The same also happens with fish. 

One study in the US showed higher fibroid growth in some women on a high fish diet. 

Apart from the different compositions of beef that happen when being processed for sale, the relevant factor may be EDCs.

EDC, endocrine disrupting chemicals, may exist in these animals, especially fish, from environmental pollutants (e.g. PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls). 

So, what should this tell us if you have fibroids? That moderation is key.

Eating lean cuts of red meat or fish, chicken or turkey can help as part of a balanced diet to keep you at a healthy weight and is unlikely to significantly impact fibroids.

a table set with a mixture of cooked foods - lost of packaged, canned foods contain excess salt and sugar which can increase the growth of fibroids

Animal Fat & Processed Foods

The next opinion is that animal fat consumption leads to fibroid growth and could worsen fibroid symptoms. Is this true or false? 

Eating excessive amounts of animal fats, especially processed and fried foods, may contribute to hormone imbalance and worsen fibroid growth. 

It also leads to excessive weight gain, which we have already said increases fibroids’ risk.

However, some studies show that dietary fat (eggs, butter, margarine, and oil) does not appreciably affect the growth of fibroids.

But bear in mind that there are some types of fats (trans fatty acids such as margerine, other processed foods) which may show an increased risk of fibroids.

This also applies to other processed foods, including:

  • Added sugar of all types
  • Salt and high-sodium foods
  • Soda or soft drinks and other sugary drinks

Dairy

What about Dairy products?

This is another food category where studies differ in their findings.

While an Italian study found no association between developing fibroids and their growth, a Chinese one showed the opposite.

Interestingly, a study on African American women reported that taking milk or milk products frequently protects against developing or growing fibroids. 

In other words, taking ice cream, butter and cheese was not associated with fibroids, so calcium and other milk components may oppose the growth of fibroids – but watch out for yoghurt as some studies suggest it may slightly encourage fibroid growth.

To keep weight down, look for calcium-rich, low-fat dairy products, such as yoghurt with probiotics, plant milk, or non-dairy alternatives if you are lactose intolerant or have other sensitivities. 

Remember that individual responses to dairy can vary; some of you may find that dairy worsens symptoms. Opting for low-fat or non-dairy alternatives can be beneficial for those with sensitivities.

Fasting

Number three, let’s look at fasting and water fasting in particular. Can water fasting shrink fibroids?

Water fasting is a type of fast that restricts everything except water. 

It has become more popular recently as a quick way to lose weight.

Some people believe it could have health benefits like reducing the risk of some chronic diseases; however, we don’t have many human studies on water fasting, so it may also come with many health risks. 

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that water fasting can shrink fibroids. In fact, extreme fasting can deprive your body of essential complications, lead to health complications and is not suitable for everyone.

Instead, a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is recommended for overall health and potentially managing fibroid symptoms.

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Soya (Soy)

Now, let’s look at Soya (aka Soy – US).

The soya effect on fibroid growth is controversial, so put on your skates.

It’s thought that high soya consumption exacerbates fibroids. But, contrary to popular belief, moderate consumption of soya products containing phytoestrogens may have a protective effect against fibroids in some cases. 

According to a paper from the Harvard School of Public Health:

Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) that is similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects. Soy isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors in the body and cause either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity.

When consumed, they may alter oestrogen production and affect balance, contributing to fibroids’ growth. 

However, individual responses to Soya can vary, which could explain why some women experience the opposite effect. 

In addition, some studies link soya formula exposure in infancy to fibroid development – while others do not.

So, what should you think about Soya?

 Some studies have shown a significant association between soya and soy milk products and the growth of fibroids. Some have not. My thoughts? Avoid excess consumption of soy products.

Alcohol, Coffee and Tea

This is another area where study findings are also controversial.

Alcohol.

One study (Black Women’s Health Study, BWHS) linked current alcohol use and consumption of 20 years or more to a higher risk of Fibroids.

Beer is more related to fibroids than wine or liquor.

In another study, surgeons found they were carrying out more surgery for fibroids in women who had a daily intake of 20g or more of Alcohol.

Caffeine – while some studies (BWHS) did not show a link, others demonstrated the increased risk of fibroids with caffeine intake (which could be explained by its effect on increasing the production of sex hormones and oestrogen).

Tea: there are few studies on tea and its effect on fibroids. However, one type of tea has some robust data – Green tea and its primary component, EGCG, is epigallocatechin gallate.

The study showed significant benefits to symptoms and the overall quality of life for women with fibroids taking green tea compared to the group that didn’t. 

Check out this video here to learn more about studies like that.

Green Tea is thought to be an effective, safe and inexpensive treatment option for managing fibroid symptoms like heavy menstrual bleeding.

mixture of foods like fruit and vegetables, natural carbohydrates, oils etc that make up foods that could help prevent fibroids growth

Fruit and Vegetables

Eating more fresh fruit and veg is associated with a lower risk of fibroids growth.

Some studies suggest they protect against the development of fibroids.

2-4 servings/day is better than one or none.

Strawberries, for example, have been identified as possibly being able to provide treatment or prevention of fibroids after studies showed strawberry extracts could lead to the death of fibroid cells. 

Curcumin is a nutritional supplement that may also similarly affect fibroid cells, and studies have shown this effect. Another example is tomatoes containing Lycopene, which may also reduce fibroids’ growth in animal studies. 

Other examples are apples, broccoli, cabbage, citrus fruits – oranges, grapes, pineapples, spinach, lettuce, beans/ legumes. Potassium-rich foods like potatoes, bananas, and avocado.

Vitamins and Fibroids

These are micronutrients which have recognized effects on many of the body’s functions. 

When it comes to their association with fibroids, there are few studies on the vitamins except for vitamins  A and D.

 However, our studies (BWHS) show that low amounts of animal-sourced Vitamin A are associated with a higher risk of fibroids. They did not find this link for fruit and vegetable vitamin A sources.

So, some women may observe that low Vitamin A is associated with the growth of fibroids.

To date, there has been no association between fibroids and folate Vitamin C or VIt E.

The biggest vitamin studies are around vitamin D, where we have learned that low vitamin D is associated with an increased risk of fibroids’ growth and development.

Many studies have demonstrated that women of different ethnicities are more at risk of fibroids when they have low Vitamin D levels – India, Turkey, China, Italian, Black and White women. 

In fact, an Italian study not only confirmed the link between the biggest fibroids and low vitamin D but also showed that correcting the low Vitamin D levels in those women with fibroids reduced their need for medication or surgery.

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Food Pollution/Contamination

By this, we refer to pollution or contamination from environmental sources.

This could mean pollution of waters growing fish, feeds for cattle like grain grown in soil that is contaminated, and so on. 

Fibroid development depends on hormones via the oestrogen and progesterone receptors in the womb.

Some contaminants cause ill health by acting as endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They are similar to the body’s own natural hormones. 

EDCs can disrupt the endocrine system, leading to irregularities in hormone levels, which can influence fibroid growth.

Minimizing exposure to EDCs by avoiding plastics, opting for organic foods, and using natural cleaning and personal care products may reduce the risk.

Studies in China and the US, for example, have shown higher urine and blood levels of a lot of these EDCs/pollutants in women with fibroids than those who do not have them.

Examples (bisphenol, nonylphenol, and octylphenol) and phthalates.

Some people believe that pollution caused by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) does not impact fibroids. 

However, exposure to environmental pollutants, including EDCs, has been linked to hormonal imbalances and may contribute to developing or exacerbating fibroids. 

Heavy Metals

Similarly, we have studies (from Korea, Bulgaria and China) on the link between heavy metals and fibroid growth,

This is important because heavy metals can increase the risk of fibroids.

You can find them in the environment as pollutants from smoking or, like the other contaminants in our foods (polluted air, seafood, and leafy green vegetables).

This category includes trace elements like cadmium, lead, cobalt, copper and chrome. 

Other elements, like selenium and zinc, affect fibroid growth when their levels are low. 

Spicy Foods

Myth: Spicy foods worsen fibroid symptoms. 

Fact: There is no evidence to suggest that spicy foods directly worsen fibroid symptoms.

However, some individuals may find that spicy foods exacerbate gastrointestinal discomfort or bloating, which can indirectly affect fibroid symptoms.

Moderation and paying attention to individual tolerances are key when consuming spicy foods.

Diet may Affect Fibroids’ Growth in Some Women

So, are there ways your diet can cure fibroids naturally?

The word cure is stretching things as we still need many studies to tell us more about the effect of different foods on fibroids.

It would help if you remembered that individual responses vary.

So some women may experience benefits like symptom control and even an improved quality of life. However, others do not and will have symptoms bad enough for treatments like drugs, surgery, Uterine Fibroid Embolisation and others. 

Foods that could help with managing fibroids are:

Green tea, fruit and vegetables, dairy products, dietary fat (eggs, butter, margarine, and oil), lean proteins in meat/fish and others.

Foods to avoid are excessive amounts of Alcohol, caffeine, and heavily processed foods containing trans fatty acids. 

Please refer here for recent scientific data from where I source these opinions.

More Reading

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Editing by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner. To discuss your condition, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly.

This blog post may contain marketing links to third-party sites that Askawayhealth is not affiliated with. We do not endorse or guarantee the products or services offered on these sites. We advise readers to exercise their own discretion when making purchases or using services from these third-party sites, and Askawayhealth bears no responsibility for any outcomes resulting from such actions.

Image Credits: Canva

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