In a new review published two weeks ago in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, researchers demonstrate the role of vitamin D in uterine fibroids.
Uterine fibroids are one of the most common benign neoplasms of the female genital tract, affecting 25% to 33% of women. Increased risk factors include ethnicity, elevated BMI, age, premenopausal status, hypertension, family history, and food additives.
Uterine fibroids (UF) vary in size, location, and symptoms. Most tumors are asymptomatic; however, they can cause a wide range of severe and chronic symptoms, including abnormal or excessive bleeding, iron deficiency anemia, abdominal and pelvic pain, bloating, constipation, infertility, miscarriage and premature labor.
Traditional treatments include progesterone receptor modulators (SPRM) or surgery. These can cause side effects or are invasive.
Research suggests that vitamin D deficiency plays a role in uterine fibroid development, as vitamin D levels are significantly lower in patients with uterine fibroids compared to patients without them.
In a 2009 study, researchers demonstrated the relationship between vitamin D levels and the growth of UF cells. Inhibition of their growth was correlated with increasing vitamin D concentration. Another study showed the effect of vitamin D3 on the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) pathway. This was inhibited by increased concentrations of vitamin D and further confirms the role of vitamin D in the UF pathology because TGF-β is considered to be one of the most relevant factors in the pathogenesis of fibrosis-associated diseases.
Vitamin D also functions as a potent antiestrogenic and antiprogesteronic compound. There is an inverse correlation between the up-regulation of estrogen and progesterone receptors and VDR (vitamin D receptor) expression in UFs. In a 2016 study, 53 women with UFs received vitamin D supplementation. As a result, this addressed the deficiency and reduced disease progression.
Chronic conditions are multifactorial; however, vitamin D seems to be an effective, safe and inexpensive option that can be taken prophylactically.
Vitamin D regulates cell proliferation and differentiation, inhibits angiogenesis, and stimulates apoptosis. These processes are involved in the inhibition of neoplastic formation and tumor growth with uterine fibroids.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem that has many health consequences, yet it can easily be addressed. Sun exposure is the ideal source of vitamin D but the reality is most individuals have low vitamin D levels and require supplementation. Many people avoid the sun due to the dangers of overexposure so they’ll cover up potentially exposed skin with either clothing or sunblock. In addition many of life’s obligations require us to spend countless hours inside under fluorescent lights and away from natural light. Also, both latitude and time of year will influence the amount of vitamin D that can be obtained from the sun, and in some locations these limitations may be hindrances throughout most of the year.
Other dietary supplements to consider with uterine fibroids include fiber, fish oil, and GLA.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: Ciebiera M, Wlodarczyk M, et al. Vitamin D and Uterine Fibroids-Review of the Literature and Novel Concepts. Int J Mol Sci 2018 Jul 14;19(7). pii: E2051. doi: 10.3390/ijms19072051.