Turns out there is a link between Vitamin D deficiency and uterine fibroids. Inadequate levels of vitamin D may increase the risk of developing fibroids, according to a new study performed at the National Institute of Environment and Health Science. Researchers selected 620 African-American women and 410 Caucasian women. They determined their levels of vitamin D in the blood as well as health status with a questionnaire. The research showed that vitamin D level greater than 20ng/ml decreased the risk of uterine fibroids by 20%. Furthermore, an increase of vitamin D level by 10ng/ml was associated with a 20% lower risk of fibroids. The study also showed that in the entire selected group, only 10% of African-American and 50% of Caucasian women had vitamin D levels greater than 20ng/ml, which is considered appropriate.
Uterine fibroids, also known as a myoma or leiomyoma are benign smooth muscle cell tumor of the female uterus. They are the most common benign tumor found in women and also the leading cause of hysterectomies. By age 35 African-American women have a 60% risk of developing fibroids, which increases to >80% by age 50. On the other hand, Caucasian women have a 40% risk of developing uterine by age 35, which increases to 70% by age 50. Apart from the race, other risk factors for developing uterine fibroids include early age of menarche, family history and being overweight. A considerable body of evidence has shown that estrogen and progesterone promote the growth of the fibroid. Additionally, genetic alterations in the uterine muscle cells and insulin-like growth factor may also stimulate fibroid growth. In the last 15 years or so, there has been a growing concern about diet being liked to fibroids. Evidence now links vitamins to fibroid growth.
A vitamin is an organic compound that is a vital nutrient for the human body. There are fat soluble and water soluble vitamins. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It plays an important role in the absorption of calcium as well as phosphorus. Adequate calcium and phosphorus absorption are needed for bone mineralization. The other major function of vitamin D is the maturation of one of the bone cells called osteoclasts, which resorbs calcium from bone. Vitamin D is found in a wide variety of sources. The least expensive way to obtain vitamin D is through sunlight. Other sources include dairy products such as milk and cheese, fish such as salmon and sardines as well as plants such as alfalfa.
The term vitamin D refers to either vitamin D2 commonly known as ergocalciferol or vitamin D3 commonly known as cholecalciferol. Deficiency of vitamin D in children leads to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Studies have shown that adequate supplementation with vitamin D is protective against a multitude of disorders that includes muscle weakness, falls, fractures, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Furthermore, vitamin D also has protective actions against cancers, neurocognitive and mental disorders as well as infertility. Studies have also shown the vitamin D supplementation helps against adverse pregnancy outcomes and birth defects.
The good news is something as simple, yet wonderful and inexpensive as sunshine every day can reduce the risk of fibroids. This study adds to the growing benefits of vitamin D. Women with fibroids should routinely get serum vitamin D levels tested. Although this is a relatively new concept and more research needs to be undertaken, dietary modifications that include vitamin D will be beneficial in the long run to patients trying to manage uterine fibroids.