Vitamin D and the Risk of Fibroids
Emerging research suggests that higher levels of vitamin D are protective against an astonishing array of conditions. The list of vitamin D’s potential benefits ranges from strengthening bones, as you’d expect (decreased risk of osteoporosis), to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, less likelihood of developing cancer, decreased risk of autoimmune diseases (such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis) and many others. Inadequate vitamin D levels have even been implicated in the development of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.
The data are not always clear, however, so some of these apparent benefits remain contested, and investigations continue. What’s clear, though, is that too many of us are not getting enough vitamin D. If you’re Hispanic or African American, your risk of deficiency is even greater. Most of us could benefit from additional dietary vitamin D3, which is available as a safe, affordable supplement.
To underscore this point, consider a new study published this month in the medical journal, Epidemiology. The National Institutes of Health-sponsored study concluded that women with adequate levels of vitamin D were 32 percent less likely to be diagnosed with uterine fibroids than women with inadequate or deficient vitamin D status.
Fibroids are benign tumors of the uterus. The term “benign” may be misleading, though. Although not cancerous, these tumors can cause considerable pain, discomfort and bleeding, and they’re the leading cause of hysterectomy. According to an international survey, the incidence of fibroids ranges from 4.5 - 9.8 percent among women. Among older women (40-49) the incidence reached nearly 18 percent. The takeaway message? “...Sufficient vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk of uterine fibroids,” researchers wrote.
Baird DD, Hill MC, Schectman JM, Hollis BW. 2013. Vitamin D and the risk of uterine fibroids. Epidemiology; 24(3):447-453.
Chakhtoura M, Azar ST. The role of vitamin d deficiency in the incidence, progression, and complications of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Int J Endocrinol. 2013;2013:148673. doi: 10.1155/2013/148673. Epub 2013 Mar 13.
Johnson DD, Wagner CL, Hulsey TC, McNeil RB, Ebeling M, Hollis BW. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is common during pregnancy. Am J Perinatol. 2011 Jan;28(1):7-12. doi: 10.1055/s-0030-1262505. Epub 2010 Jul 16.
Zimmermann A, Bernuit D, Gerlinger C, Schaefers M, Geppert K. Prevalence, symptoms and management of uterine fibroids: an international internet-based survey of 21,746 women. BMC Womens Health. 2012 Mar 26;12:6. doi: 10.1186/1472-6874-12-6.