One of the most costly health issues affecting 80 percent of women appears to be due to a lack of vitamin D, which the body produces from sunshine.
Uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths in the muscle of the uterus, cause a lot of problems. Fibroids are the leading reason for hysterectomies and can cause infertility and recurrent early pregnancy loss, key concerns for many of my patients.
New research suggests uterine fibroids may be prevented by sunshine – more specifically, fibroids appear to be associated with a deficiency of vitamin D, which the body creates from sunshine. The promise is that a simple, inexpensive treatment for early stage uterine fibroids may be at hand – and may also prevent fibroids from occurring in the first place.
The potential for this simple remedy is exciting. People often think that doctors favor complex treatments and medicines. But for myself and most physicians, simple is always better.
In the September 2015 issue of Fertility and Sterility, researchers from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgia Regents University, Medical College of Georgia present data from three studies showing a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and uterine fibroids. While it is a strong relationship it is not a proven cause, but the authors of the article are calling for clinical trials to try to bridge that causal gap.
Finding a way to treat and possibly prevent uterine fibroid tumors would be a great help to millions of women who experience uterine fibroid symptoms.
What researchers found out about vitamin D
They looked at past research on humans and animals and did additional research as well. They found that vitamin D3 reduces leiomyoma cells (a leiomyoma is a fibroid). They found that, “These results postulate the potential role of vitamin D3 for an effective, safe, nonsurgical medical treatment option for uterine fibroids.”
An ideal therapy for preventing and treating early stage uterine fibroids would be low risk to the patient, effective and inexpensive. And that’s vitamin D. Though you can get it from sunshine, you can also get skin cancer from too much sun exposure, so doctors recommend vitamin D supplements that would cost around $32 a year.
People have been looking into the effects of vitamin D on uterine fibroids for some time. Studies show that African-American women are 2-3 times more likely to get uterine fibroids than white women. Studies indicate that their darker skin prevents them from absorbing as much ultraviolet light and vitamin D.
Vitamin D also plays a big role in healthy bones, reducing the incidence of osteoporosis and osteopenia (a less severe form of bone density loss than osteoporosis). It also may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers (breast, colon, prostate) and autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis).
With those added benefits, using vitamin D to prevent and treat uterine fibroids would make perfect sense. Now we just need for someone to start clinical trials to prove that vitamin D has an inhibitory effect on uterine fibroids in humans.
Millions of women are waiting for the clinical trials to begin. They would opt for sunshine over surgery any day.