The Black Women’s Expo

April 7-8, 2017
McCormick Place
2301 S King Dr.
Chicago, IL 60616

Visit MIMIT at Booth #604 to learn about women’s health and win fabulous prizes.

Preserving Your Womanhood
featuring Dr. Romi Chopra
April 8th, 5-6:30pm
Room # N227B

French Multicenter Uterine Fibroid Embolization Study Shows Improvements in Sexual Desire and Function, Quality of Life

April 3, 2016€”Data collected in a French multicenter study of women undergoing uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) indicate improved postprocedure quality of life, with specific progress observed in patient reporting of sexual desire and function. The SFICV EFUZEN study abstract was presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology€™s 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, by lead researcher Helene Vernhet-Kovacsik, MD, and colleagues. Dr. Vernhet-Kovacsik is an interventional radiologist at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Montpellier, France.

Data were prospectively collected at 25 French centers, with 264 patients participating. The patients were consecutively enrolled and asked to complete questionnaires regarding their UFE symptoms and health-related quality of life (UFE-QoL) at baseline and again at 1 year postprocedure. Additionally, they gave feedback regarding sexual desire and function via completion of Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Complete FSFI survey information was obtained in 170 patients, and 190 provided UFE-QoL feedback. 

Before undergoing UFE, 189 of the patients reported abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding, and 171 said they experienced pain and other symptoms associated with pelvic pressure. At 1 year, these numbers had fallen to 39 and 42, respectively. 

More than 90% of patients who completed the UFE-QoL assessment at 1 year described improvements in quality of life; the investigators reported average scores increasing from 45 to 71 during this period (on a scale of 0-100). Regarding sexual function, 78.8% of of patients who provided self-assessments at 1 year reported improvements including pain sensation, desire, arousal, and satisfaction. Correlation of fibroid and uterine volume reduction to patient-reported outcomes was not established. 

Marc J. Sapoval, MD, PhD, one of the study€™s investigators and a course director of the GEST embolization symposium, discussed the study with the media and described a large amount of global data supporting UFE. Randomized trials have shown that the procedure is as efficient and much less invasive than other options such as hysterectomy, with complications occurring very rarely, he said. Referral for UFE is growing in France, €œBut, we are still far from where we should be in terms of patients treated,€ indicated the interventional radiologist at Hôpital Européen in Paris. 

Citing a similar scenario in the United States, Robert L. Vogelzang, MD, from Northwestern University in Chicago, said that UFE has still not achieved the widespread success or use it should despite two decades of experience with the procedure. €œWe€™re working to improve that, but, sadly, the patients who have fibroids are often not being told about embolization,€ he said. €œWe€™re doing about 10% of the fibroids here in America [via UFE] as best we can judge, but that still leaves hundreds of thousands of fibroids being treated by old means, which is unnecessary.€ 

Prof. Sapoval concluded that the data collected in this study add specific figures on quality of life and sexual function after UFE to the body of evidence supporting the procedure. Also providing commentary on the study, SIR President Alan H. Matsumoto, MD, of the University of Virginia, was hopeful that these data will help in the debate regarding the effectiveness of UFE in patients with symptomatic fibroids.

http://evtoday.com/2016/03/french-multicenter-uterine-fibroid-embolization-study-shows-improvements-in-sexual-desire-and-function-quality-of-life

Dr. Chopra talks about fibroids and UFE with RadioPaniPoori

Women from all walks of life can get uterine fibroids. And if you already have them, you€™re not alone. Uterine fibroids are exceedingly common. Current statistics show that 30% of women will develop fibroids by the time they are 35 years of age. This number increases to 70-80% by age 50. 

RadioPaniPoori is an online radio station targeting the South Asian diaspora. RJ Promila interviewed Dr. Chopra to discuss how uterine fibroids impacts women from South Asia, its treatment options and what more can be done to increase awareness. 

Click to listen to Dr. Chopra’s interview with RadioPaniPoori

Debunking Uterine Fibroid Myths

Uterine fibroids are more common than you may think.

Fact: experts estimate about three-fourths of all women develop uterine fibroids at some point during their lifetime. This condition often goes undetected. If you live in the greater Chicago area and suspect you may have uterine fibroids you should learn more about your condition and explore your treatment options with a fibroid specialist. Your physician can help you unlock the truth behind some common fibroid myths.

Myth: All Uterine Fibroids are Cancerous

Fibroids are often called tumors; therefore, many women assume that they are cancerous.non-surgical fibroid treatment

Fact: not all tumors are cancerous. Non-cancerous tumors are called benign tumors, while cancerous growths are known as malignant tumors. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors.

Myth: Fibroids Increase your Chances of Endometrial Cancer

Fact: Endometrial cancer or cancer of the lining of the womb is not caused by uterine fibroids. Experts do however feel there may be a correlation between the causes that result in endometrial cancer and the ones that cause fibroids.

Myth: All Women with Fibroids Need Hysterectomies

Many women wrongly assume they must have a hysterectomy if they suffer from fibroids, especially if they are past a childbearing age. While it€™s true that a hysterectomy may be the only treatment option in some extreme cases, experts urge women to think of surgery as a last resort.

Fact: most women who require treatment for uterine fibroids can relieve and even eliminate their symptoms with a minimally invasive procedure called Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). With UFE your physician injects tiny particles into your blood vessel that €œfeed€ the fibroid. This procedure blocks the flow of blood to the fibroid, which causes the fibroid tumor to shrink and die.

Myth: All Fibroids Must be Treated

While it€™s true that all uterine fibroids do not require a hysterectomy, it is also true that some fibroids may not need medical treatment at all.

Fact: many women with uterine fibroids may not even realize that they have them because they are asymptomatic. Women with asymptomatic fibroids may choose to adopt healthier lifestyle habits to reduce their risk of developing symptomatic fibroids. These lifestyle changes may include quitting smoking, exercising regularly, and following a healthier diet.

Myth: Fibroids Typically Cause Infertility

Fibroids are often thought of as a common cause of infertility, and may prevent pregnancy in certain patients.

Fact:  It is very rare for fibroids to interfere with your ability to conceive. Even if fibroids are removed surgically or through UFE, a uterus is left intact for future pregnancies.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE): How it changed my life

Dr. Chopra’s patient Lisa describes her experience with uterine fibroids and her recommendation to women about Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE)






 

Uterine Fibroid Embolization: A Safe and Effective Alternative to Surgery

If you€™ve been diagnosed with uterine fibroids in Chicago, you€™re not alone. The National Institutes of Health concluded that the majority of American women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives1. With symptoms such as urinary incontinence, painful intercourse, and heavy periods that can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, fibroids take a toll both physically and mentally.

A hysterectomy, or the surgical removal of the uterus, was at one time the go-to treatment for fibroids. But now women have other less-invasive options to choose from€”options like uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), which can offer dramatic relief while still sparing the uterus.

€œUterine fibroid embolization is for those women who would like to avoid surgery,€ says Dr. Paramjit €œRomi €œ Chopra, Medical Director at the Midwest Institute for Minimally Invasive Therapies, PC (MIMIT) in Chicago.

With its launch dating back to 1995, UFE may be considered a relatively novel procedure. But previous to this, the basic technique of uterine artery embolization had been safely and successfully used to stop heavy bleeding after childbirth2.

woman's imageDuring UFE, a catheter (a linguini-like tube) is routed through a small incision in the upper thigh. routed through a small incision in the left wrist or upper thigh. Using special imaging equipment, the catheter is guided through the radial artery in the wrist or the femoral artery in the leg and into the uterine arteries. Small particles are then injected in the uterine arteries to block the blood flow that feeds the fibroids, causing them to shrink and die3.

And the success rate for UFE is noteworthy. €œIn my experience over 90 percent of women will see a substantial improvement in symptoms within the first three months when they come back for their follow up visit. Depending on the symptoms pre-procedure, their menstrual bleeding has improved considerably as the fibroids shrink and they get relief from pain, discomfort and bloating along with decreased urinary frequency.€ Dr. Chopra explains. €œMost of them share their relief along with sheer disbelief that they allowed themselves to suffer for such a long period as they didn€™t want a hysterectomy. UFE is an excellent procedure for women and they should be informed of the option as they seek treatment.€

Although UFE was once thought to only be effective with small to medium fibroids, recent research has shown that it can provide relief for large fibroids as well. Earlier this year, a study published in Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology observed the results UFE had on two groups of women, those with small fibroids of less than 10 centimeters in diameter and those with large fibroids of greater than 10 centimeters in diameter. After the surgery, follow up reports showed both groups having similar improvement in quality of life scores. The authors of the study also found there weren€™t significant differences in treatment effectiveness or post-op complications between the two groups4.

UFE success rates are high but there are times when it doesn€™t work. In some instances UFE is unable to destroy the fibroids completely €œdue to anatomy or other issues,€ Dr. Chopra explains. €œIf the fibroids are completely destroyed, they won€™t come back. However, if a small percentage of fibroids remain post-embolization, they could grow back.€ There are also fibroids too difficult to target. €œFibroids that are too small or ones on the outside of the uterus are a little more difficult to treat. In such cases we might not be able to destroy the fibroids at all.€ At times like these, subsequent treatments or other procedures may be warranted5.

As with any procedure, complications associated with UFE are possible but these are less in comparison to surgical procedures like myomectomy and hysterectomy. €œThere are known complications with surgery including damage to the uterus or abdomen, which is highly unlikely with UFE,€ says Dr. Chopra. €œUFE is a safe and effective choice for women with symptomatic uterine fibroids who want to avoid surgery, preserve their uterus and want a short recovery.€


REFERENCES

1.      National Institutes of Health. (2013). Uterine Fibroids. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/viewfactsheet.aspx?csid=50

2.      Society of Interventional Radiology. (2015). Highly Effective, Widely Available, Interventional Radiology Treatment Often Replaces Need For Hysterectomy. Retrieved April 28, 2015, from http://www.sirweb.org/patients/uterine-fibroids/

3.      King, R., & Overton, C. (2011). Management of fibroids should be tailored to the patient. The Practitioner, 255(1738): 19-23, 2-3.

4.      Bérczi, V., Valcseva, E., Kozics, D., Kalina, I., Kaposi, P., Sziller, P.,  Várbíró, S., Botos, E. M. (2015). Safety and effectiveness of UFE in fibroids larger than 10 cm. CardioVascular and Interventional Radiology. doi:10.1007/s00270-014-1045-4

5.      Gupta, J. K., Sinha, A., Lumsden, M. A., & Hickey, M. (2014). Uterine artery embolization for symptomatic uterine fibroids. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005073.pub4.

Uterine Fibroid Treatment: Different For Every Woman

Although uterine fibroids are a common occurrence for many women, they€™re very case specific. These benign tumors differ in location, size, and number from one individual to the next. For this reason, the therapeutic approach must reflect each unique situation in order to ensure the best possible health outcome.

Uterine fibroids can grow in any part of the uterus, whether it€™s inside the uterine cavity (submucosal), within the uterine wall (intramural), or outside of the uterus (subserosal).1,2 uterus-with-fibroids

Although the majority of fibroids grow within the intramural space, many variations are possible. €œFibroids arise from normal uterine cells which mutate and then grow in an abnormal way,€ said Dr. James Spies MD MPH, Professor, Chairman and Chief of Service of the Department of Radiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. €œThey€™re benign tumors, but as they grow, they can cause symptoms, and these symptoms vary depending on the location of the fibroids within the uterus. They can affect everywhere from the inner portion of the uterus to the outer portion.€

Although single or multiple fibroids can grow anywhere in the uterus, these characteristics are often a secondary issue. How deeply embedded a fibroid is within the uterus is reason for concern, especially since this particular type of fibroid has been linked to severe symptoms. €œThe fibroids that cause the biggest problems are typically those deep within the uterus,€ Dr. Spies explains. €œOne woman might only have one fibroid that€™s small but deep that causes significant symptoms. Another woman may have very large fibroids but in a position where they don€™t cause the same kind of symptoms.€

Yet, fibroid size can€™t be entirely discounted. In conjunction with depth, large fibroids can bring on severe symptoms and diminish the effectiveness of treatments. This can be an obstacle for procedures where the goal is to shrink and destroy fibroid tissue.

According to one study, after UFE treatment, fibroids shrink by approximately 45% in diameter and turn into a scar.3  Although there€™s no size restriction for UFE, relatively speaking, if a fibroid is already very large upon treatment, symptoms may not improve dramatically if the entire fibroid could not be completely destroyed. In cases like this, surgical removal of the fibroid, as seen with a myomectomy, may be a sound option.

Medications are another therapeutic point of interest, but at this time more research is needed for them to be considered an effective stand-alone treatment. €œThere is not a pill you can take that€™s going to control the growth of fibroids or solve fibroid problems long-term,€ Dr. Spies continues. And again it depends on the woman. €œA woman with fibroids deep within the cavity of the uterus€”usually medication alone is unlikely to solve the problem.€

Medications like contraceptives may at times be prescribed in cases with smaller fibroids to alleviate symptoms such as heavy painful periods. Others such as gonadotrophin releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues are a short-term option that may be used to help shrink fibroids before a surgical procedure.2,4

Every woman is different and because of this there isn€™t an umbrella treatment protocol to follow. €œThere are so many variables you really can€™t easily distill it down to that.€ Dr. Spies clarifies. €œPatient preference is a strong issue.€ Whether or not a woman even wants surgery or desires to preserve her fertility are very valid concerns that need to be taken into consideration.

As with any condition, it€™s important to first be properly diagnosed and learn the benefits and risks associated with each therapeutic approach. €œA woman can€™t self-diagnose or choose a treatment option without guidance. It takes someone who practices in the field and who is experienced to be able to get a sense of which fibroids are key and which are not and which therapies are best for her particular fibroids.€


ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Alicia Armeli has a Master of Science in Nutrition and Whole Foods Dietetics (MSN/DPD) and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, a Certified Dietitian, and a Holistic Life Coach. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering with her local animal shelter.

ABOUT THE DOCTOR   James Spies is the Chairman, Chief of Service, and a Professor of the Department of Radiology at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is an interventional radiologist whose primary clinical and research interest is in uterine embolization for fibroids. His specialty is in radiology and his special interests include uterine artery embolization and gynecologic intervention.

REFERENCES

1.      US Department of Health and Human Services, Office On Women€™s Health. (2015). Uterine fibroids fact sheet. Retrieved April 21, 2015, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/uterine-fibroids.html?from=AtoZ

2.      King, R., & Overton, C. (2011). Management of fibroids should be tailored to the patient. The Practitioner, 255(1738): 19-23, 2-3.

3.      Lee, M. S., Kim, M. D., Jung, D. C., Lee, M., Won, J. Y., Park, S., Lee, D. Y., & Lee, K. (2013). Apparent diffusion coefficient of uterine leiomyoma as a predictor of the potential response to uterine artery embolization. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 24(9): 1361-1365. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2013.05.054

4.      Segars, J. H., Parrott, E. C., Nagel, J. D., Guo, X. C., Gao, X., Birnbaum, L. S., Pinn, V. W., & Dixon, D. (2014). Proceedings from the Third National Institutes of Health International Congress on Advances in Uterine Leiomyoma Research: comprehensive review, conference summary and future recommendations. Human Reproduction Update. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmt058

 

5 Fibroid-Friendly Snack Ideas Why Small Bites are a Good Thing

slide-2When I say the word €œsnacking,€ what comes to mind? For many, snacking elicits visions of potato chips and candy bars parading over mountains of candy-coated milk chocolate. Sound familiar? We€™ve all been there. We€™re human for goodness€™ sake.

But maybe the reason why snacking has been given such a bad rap is because its place in a healthy diet is misunderstood and its value underestimated. A recent study showed when snacking or €œeating frequently€ is done healthfully and habitually; it can help to maintain a healthy body weight€”and by extension, may reduce the risk of uterine fibroids.

The study published in the April 2015 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics examined the relationship between frequency of eating, types of foods eaten, and body mass index (BMI)€”a common indicator for body fatness. Over a three-year period, the authors of the study analyzed BMI measurements and standardized diet reports of 2,696 men and women from the United States and the United Kingdom. The results indicated that when individuals ate four times or less in a 24-hour time frame they were more likely to have higher BMIs in comparison to those who ate six times or more. In addition to these findings, those who ate less often concentrated all their meals later in the day€”meals that were higher in saturated fat, salt and sugar and lower in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.1

The study€™s data suggests that small frequent meals may be associated with a healthy weight. And in terms of uterine fibroids, maintaining a healthy weight is something to keep in mind. Statistics show the risk of fibroids is two to three times greater in obese women.2  How obesity and fibroids are connected isn€™t entirely understood, but some theories point the finger at hormones. Obesity has been linked to higher levels of circulating sex hormones, which can be a problem since research shows fibroids to be a hormone-driven condition.3,4

But it€™s not only body weight contributing to higher hormone levels.  Dietary habits do as well. Studies have found diets high in saturated fat to be associated with greater levels of circulating sex hormones like estrogen.5 Ironically, certain foods can also have the opposite effect. Nutrient-dense fibrous foods like whole grains are seen to support the body€™s natural way of metabolizing and excreting sex hormones.5 Incorporating many of these same high-fiber foods can also help reach and maintain a healthy body weight.6 

Provided below are snack-savvy tips and ideas to get you started:

Tips

Eat the Rainbow
Incorporate a fruit and/or vegetable with each snack. Increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption will also up your fiber intake.

Maintain Balance
Think of snacks as tiny meals. Make sure they have a balance of healthy carbs, protein, and fat to provide your body with energy between meals and to keep you feeling full longer.

Don€™t Wait Until You€™re Starving
By all means, eat when you€™re hungry but don€™t wait until you€™re ravenous. This can easily lead to overeating. Find your body€™s natural hunger and satiety rhythm. Eat when you start to feel hungry and stop when you€™re slightly full.

Take Your Time
According to the British Nutrition Foundation, it takes about 15-20 minutes for the full range of satiety hormonal signals and sensory responses to even reach our brain.7 These signals are significant in controlling how much we eat. 

Snack Ideas

Sardine Salad Lettuce Wraps
Ranking high with wild-caught salmon, sardines contain 500-1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per 3-ounce cooked portion.8 Light on the mayo and veggie heavy, this snack is a great way to liven up that traditional tuna salad.

Peanut Butter & Fruit Stack
Using a brown rice cake as the base, this healthier version of a PB & J sandwich is a great source of protein, mono- and polyunsaturated fats€”all with the natural sweetness of fresh fruit.

Fresh Veggies and Hummus
Boasting a hearty 1.5 grams of dietary fiber per tablespoon, legumes are a delicious way to experiment with fiber-rich protein sources.9

Yogurt with Mango Chunks and Hemp Seeds
Pairing plain reduced-fat yogurt with your favorite fruit is a balanced snack done right. Toss hemp seeds on top for more fiber and omega-3s.  

Berry Piña Colada Smoothie
Whip up this simple smoothie recipe: ½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt, ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk, ¼ cup coconut milk, ¼ cup fresh pineapple, 5 frozen dark sweet cherries, and ¼ banana.  Dairy serves as a hearty protein source in this recipe. Interestingly, consuming dairy has been linked to a reduced risk of fibroids€”especially among African American women.10
(255 calories, 25 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 14 g protein, 109 mg sodium, 18 g sugar)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Alicia Armeli has a Master of Science in Nutrition and Whole Foods Dietetics (MSN/DPD) and is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a certified dietitian, and a holistic life coach. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering with her local animal shelter.

REFERENCES

1.      Aljuraiban, G. S., Chan, Q., Oude Griep, L. M., Brown, I.J., Daviglus, M. L., Stamler, J., Van Horn, L., Elliott, P., Frost, G. S. (2015). The impact of eating frequency and time of intake on nutrient quality and body mass index: the INTERMAP Study, a population-based study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(4): 528-536. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2014.11.017.

2.      US Dept of Health and Human Services, Office on Women€™s Health. (2015). Uterine Fibroids Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/uterine-fibroids.html?from=AtoZ

3.      Sarwer, D. B., Spitzer, J. C., Wadden, T. A., Rosen, R. C., Mitchell, J. E., Lancaster, K., Courcoulas, A., Gourash, W., & Christian, N. J. (2013).  Sexual functioning and sex hormones in persons with extreme obesity and seeking surgical and non-surgical weight loss. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases, 9(6). doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2013.07.003

4.      Khan, A. T., Shehmar, M., & Gupta, J. K. (2014). Uterine fibroids: current perspectives. International Journal of Women€™s Health, 6: 95-114. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S51083

5.      Pizzorno, J. E., & Murray, M. T. (2013). Textbook of natural medicine (4th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.

6.      American Heart Association. (2015).  Whole Grains and Fiber. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp

7.      British Nutrition Foundation. (2013). Understanding Satiety: Feeling Full After a Meal. Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthyliving/fuller/understanding-satiety-feeling-full-after-a-meal.html

8.      Seafood Health Facts. (2011). Omega-3 Content of Frequently Consumed Seafood Products. Retrieved April 29, 2015, from http://seafoodhealthfacts.org/seafood_nutrition/practitioners/omega3_content.php

9.      United States Department of Agriculture. (2015). Basic Report: Chickpeas (garbanzo beans, bengal gram), mature seeds, raw. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4770?fg=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=16056

10.   Wise, L. A., Radin, R. G., Palmer, J. R., Kumanyika, S. K., & Rosenberg, L. (2010). A prospective study of dairy intake and risk of uterine leiomyomata. American Journal of Epidemiology, 171(2): 221-32. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp355

 

 

Who Gets Uterine Fibroids?

Part of being a woman is knowing your body. You want the right information so you can make informed decisions about your health. For many women, uterine fibroids are a common concern. But who actually gets uterine fibroids? This is a valid question and although many believe there€™s a direct answer, it isn€™t as cut and dry as we may think.

fadeshow_1

The truth is, women from all walks of life can get uterine fibroids. And if you already have them, you€™re not alone. Uterine fibroids are exceedingly common. Current statistics show that 30% of women will develop fibroids by the time they are 35 years of age. This number increases to 70-80% by age 50.1

Despite the gravity of these statistics, there are definite risk factors associated with developing uterine fibroids.

Age

Uterine fibroids are most common among women during their reproductive years. According to the International Journal of Women€™s Health,2 an estimated 20-40% of women in their reproductive years experience fibroids. Yet, the cause of fibroids is still not fully understood. Since fibroids are atypical before menarche and the incidence declines after menopause, it€™s quite possible they€™re hormone related.

Family History

In the case of uterine fibroids, there€™s no denying our genes. A hereditary component does exist as fibroids are commonly seen to €œrun in the family.€  First-degree relatives (i.e., mothers, daughters, and siblings) of women with uterine fibroids are approximately two times more at risk for developing them as well.3

To date, one predisposing hereditary genetic factor has been pinpointed€”a DNA mutation that codes for the enzyme fumarate hydratase.3,4 If you observe uterine fibroids to be a common occurrence in your family, it€™s important to talk to your doctor about the possibility of genetic screening to rule out other health complications.

Ethnicity

As a risk factor, the matter of ethnicity has given the medical community pause. African American women are found to have a much higher prevalence and severity as well as an earlier onset of the disease in comparison to other ethnicities. Several studies have shown that African American women are three times more likely to have uterine fibroids in comparison to Caucasian women.5

Obesity

More than one-third of adults in the United States are obese.6 Although not broadcasted as frequently as other obesity-related conditions, uterine fibroids do seem to be linked to obesity.

Last year, a study published in the Journal of Women€™s Health analyzed the health records of 826 Chinese women to see if any relationship existed between uterine fibroids, body size, and fat distribution. At the end of the study, results showed that as women carried excess weight, particularly in the mid-section, the incidence of uterine fibroids increased.7 This suggests that a relationship does in fact exist and that achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight may help to decrease the risk of uterine fibroids. 

Nutrition & Eating Habits

A crucial component of reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is indeed nutrition. However, it may do more than help your waistline. It can also reduce your risk of uterine fibroids.

Nutritional factors, such as vitamin deficiencies, have been linked to uterine fibroids. For example, lower Vitamin D levels correlate to an increased risk. That being said, this may be a promising opportunity in the realm of natural treatment options. Studies have shown that black and white women with sufficient Vitamin D levels showed a reduced incidence of fibroids by 30%.8 

On the other hand, eating a varied healthy diet full of whole foods can prove beneficial. Dietary trends such as consuming four or more dairy products per day and increasing fruit and vegetable intake have been associated with a decreased risk.8 Some research shows that eating whole soy foods tend to have anti-estrogenic effects when estrogen levels are too high. Thus, intake is thought to possibly reduce fibroid risk.2

Living with Fibroids

Sometimes uterine fibroids are asymptomatic. Therefore, it€™s important to get routine exams. If you suffer from or believe you may have uterine fibroids, work with your doctor and a Registered Dietitian to create a treatment plan that is tailored for you and your body. Although some of the risk factors discussed are out of our control, others are right within our reach.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Alicia Armeli has a Master of Science in Nutrition and Whole Foods Dietetics (MSN/DPD) and is a registered dietitian nutritionist, a certified dietitian, and a holistic life coach. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering with her local animal shelter.

REFERENCES

1.      National Women€™s Health Network. (2013). Uterine Fibroids Fact Sheets. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from https://nwhn.org/fibroids

2.      Khan, A. T., Shehmar, M., & Gupta, J. K. (2014). Uterine fibroids: current perspectives. International Journal of Women€™s Health, 6: 95-114. doi: 10.2147/IJWH.S51083

3.      Tolvanen, J., Uimari, O., Ryynanen, M., Aaltonen, L. A., & Vahteristo, P. (2012). Strong family history of uterine leiomyomatosis warrants fumarate hydratase mutation screening. Human Reproduction, 27(6): 1865-1869. doi: 10.1093/humrep/des105

4.      Collgros, H., Iglesias-Sancho, M., Tribo-Boixareu, M. J., Creus-Vila, L., Umbert-Millet, P., & Salleras-Redonnet, M. (2015). Multiple Cutaneous and Uterine Leiomyomatosis or Reed Syndrome: A Retrospective Study of 13 Cases. Actas Dermo-Sifiliograficas, 106(2): 117-125. doi: 10.1016/j.ad.2014.08.005

5.      Richard-Davis, G. (2013). Uterine fibroid: the burden borne by African American women. Journal of Women€™s Health, 22(10): 793-794. DOI: 10.1089/jwh.2013.4597

6.      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). Adult Obesity Facts. Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

7.      Yang, Y., Yuan, H., Qiang, Z., & Shuzhang, L. (2014). Association of body size and body fat distribution with uterine fibroids among Chinese women. Journal of Women€™s Health, 23(7): 619-626. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4690

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New Study Sheds Light on Why You Might Not Need a Hysterectomy

Woman Suffering from uterine fibroids
Hysterectomy is not your only choice

A new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology says that nearly 20 percent of hysterectomies performed to treat noncancerous conditions are actually unnecessary. What€™s more, the study suggests that alternative treatments, such as uterine fibroid embolisation, are underutilized.

In a recent article published in U.S. News & World Report, women€™s health specialists said alternative treatments should always be considered first to alleviate the most common symptoms hysterectomies are too often used to remedy: heavy, irregular uterine bleeding; anemia; and pelvic pressure and pain.

The article addressed several symptoms and alternative treatments for each. For example, if a woman suffers from fibroids€”which are a leading cause of hysterectomies€”one alternative procedure is uterine artery embolization, a treatment that shrinks or eliminates the masses. During this minimally invasive procedure, small particles are injected into the uterine arteries to block blood flow feeding the fibroids. Unlike a hysterectomy, uterine artery embolization preserves a woman€™s uterus.

To explore additional hysterectomy alternatives, read the entire article.