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Fibroid Research Update from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Conference

I recently gave two lectures (Recent Advances in Fibroid Surgery and Fibroids and Pregnancy Outcomes) at a fibroid postgraduate course given for the ASRM annual meeting in Atlanta.

Dr. Bill Catherino, head of a fibroid research group at the NIH, presented new findings about what causes fibroids to grow and what possible treatments, diets, environmental changes might be used to reduce the health impact of fibroids.  The less-than-good-news is that none of the following research was performed in humans, so the results are very preliminary.

Hormonal Influences

Women with fibroids have normal blood levels of estrogen and progesterone.  Estrogen dominance does not cause fibroids.

Fibroid cells can make their own estrogen, so the level of estrogen inside fibroids is higher than in blood or other tissues.

Estrogen and progesterone receptors, parts of the fibroid cells that cause them to respond to estrogen and progesterone, are more prevalent in fibroid cells than normal uterine muscle cells.

Fibroids have more collagen than normal uterine muscle cells and more glycosaminoglycans (GAG).  GAGs draw water into the cells and make them swell.  Lupron causes a decrease in GAGs, which dehydrates the fibroid cells and causes shrinking of the fibroids.  When Lupron is stopped, the cells take on water again and swell again.

Dietary Factors

Vitamin D – decreases fibroid cell size and disrupt the formation of fibroid muscle cells.

Resveratrol (found in grapes) – decreases growth and increases death of fibroid cells in a test tube.

Curcumin (spice) – decreases growth and increases death of fibroid cells in a test tube.

Licorice (isoliquiritigenin) – decreases growth and increases death of fibroid cells in a test tube.

Green Tea (epigallocatechin gallate) – decreases growth of fibroid cells in a test tube.

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