A study from the National Institute of Health reports that vitamin D deficient women are more likely to develop uterine fibroids than women with sufficient vitamin D levels.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors of the uterus. As many as 3 out of 4 women will have uterine fibroids at some point during their lives. They can cause pelvic pressure or pain, prolonged or heavy periods, frequent urination, and back or leg pain, although, most women don’t experience any symptoms. Fibroids are the leading cause of hysterectomy in the US.
Researchers assessed vitamin D status and screened 1,036 women, aged 35-49, for fibroids using ultrasound. The participants also completed a questionnaire reporting daily sun exposure.
The researchers found that only 10% of African American participants and 50% of Caucasian participants had levels above 20 ng/ml. Women who had vitamin D levels >20 ng/ml had a 32% decreased risk of fibroids. Furthermore, those who reported spending more than one hour outside per day had a 40% decreased risk of fibroids.
“It would be wonderful if something as simple and inexpensive as getting some natural sunshine on their skin each day could help women reduce their chance of getting fibroids,” explains lead author Donna Baird, PhD.
These findings are consistent with past laboratory studies showing vitamin D shrunk fibroid tumors in rats. We report on the study here.
The current study is promising, but the researchers call for further studies to confirm the results.