Uterine fibroids affect 70-80% of all women during their lifetime. Some will be unaware they have fibroids and will experience no symptoms, while others will suffer a myriad of unpleasant debilitating side effects.
Experts do not know what causes fibroids or why African American women are affected more often than any other group of women. What they do know is that there are factors that can make certain women more susceptible to developing fibroids, and some of these factors have been identified.
Research regarding the correlation between alcohol and fibroids & smoking and fibroids has yielded some interesting results.
Alcohol and Fibroids
There seems to be a link between consuming alcohol and fibroids. Several studies have been conducted that have concluded that consumption of certain alcoholic beverages can alter hormone levels, cytokines, and growth factors that can increase the risk for fibroid growth.
Does Alcohol Affect Fibroids?
While the exact causes of these noncancerous tumors that grow in and around the uterus are not entirely understood, it is known that many factors can influence their growth, including estrogen, genetics, and other factors including:
- High blood pressure;
- Vitamin D deficiency;
- Consume alcohol regularly;
- Eating processed unhealthy foods;
- Low consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables;
- Exposure to excess estrogen found in many personal care items and beauty products.
One study showed that the consumption of alcohol has been linked with elevated concentrations of estrogen and since we know fibroids like estrogen, it makes sense that drinking alcohol would influence the formation and growth of uterine fibroids.
Can Certain Types of Alcohol Affect Fibroids?
There have been several studies done to determine if there is a link between alcohol and fibroids. Some of the findings in these studies proved to be quite interesting, there did seem to be a correlation between certain types of alcohol and their effect on the risk for fibroids or fibroid growth.
One study focused on African American women in the United States and found a direct correlation between uterine fibroids and their consumption of alcohol. Not just any kind of alcohol but particularly the consumption of beer. Phytoestrogens can be found in hops and barley, the primary ingredients in making beer. Beer has also been shown to trigger an increase in the hormone prolactin within the body. Together, phytoestrogens and prolactin can interfere with the body’s natural production of estrogen and cause it to produce too much.
Another study that was done with Italian women between the ages of 21 and 55 showed no association between their alcohol consumption and the development of fibroids. Most of the Italian women (>90%) were wine drinkers (the type of wine was undocumented) but it is possible that wine and fibroids may have a much weaker link than beer and fibroids.
Alcohol and Fibroid Pain
More research on the relationship between alcohol and fibroids is needed to clarify if the consumption of alcohol causes fibroids, makes them grow larger, or both. Studies have shown that side effects of drinking alcohol are inflammation and the production of excess estrogen, both of which promote fibroid growth.
As fibroids grow larger, they tend to cause painful symptoms. Large fibroids can crowd other organs and cause pelvic pain, abdominal pressure, heavy bleeding, menstrual periods that last over 7 days, back and leg pain, and can put pressure on the bladder causing frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Women have reported experiencing fibroid pain after consuming alcohol, which may be due to dehydration that frequently accompanies alcohol use. Fibroid symptoms, such as bloating, constipation, and side effects of anemia can all be exacerbated when body hydration levels dip below normal.
Smoking and Fibroids
Most of us have been warned about the dangers of smoking and its relationship to lung cancer, but did you know that smoking can also increase your risk for several other types of cancer? Smoking can increase the risk of cancers like throat, bladder, mouth, kidney, cervical, and pancreatic cancer. Hearing about all the downsides of smoking, it is interesting that when researchers attempted to find a link between smoking and fibroids their studies could not find one. As a matter of fact, they discovered that smoking may actually reduce estrogen levels in the body.
Obviously, if you suffer from fibroids you should not start smoking to try to reduce your estrogen levels but there are some things you can do to help slow down the growth of fibroids. If you are wondering what to avoid if you have fibroids or measures you can take to help slow down fibroid growth, the following list may be helpful to you:
- Avoid the consumption of alcohol (especially beer);
- Eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables;
- Limit your intake of red meat;
- Avoid beauty products and personal care items that have
- Ingredients that can throw your estrogen levels off;
- Maintain a healthy weight;
- Get daily exercise;
- Drink at least 64 oz of water a day.
The Best Way to Get Rid of Fibroids Forever
If you suffer from uterine fibroids and would like to be free from their unpleasant symptoms, the best course of action would be to eliminate the fibroids altogether!
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a non-surgical outpatient procedure that takes only about 45 minutes to perform and can eliminate all your fibroids. UFE works by cutting off the blood supply to each and every fibroid and without it, they gradually shrink and eventually die. The procedure can address all types and sizes of fibroids regardless of their location as long as they are attached to a uterine blood supply. After the UFE procedure, the patient can go home the same day with just a Band-Aid to comfortably recover for about 5-7 days.
At the Atlanta Fibroid Center, Dr. John Lipman and Dr. Ermentrout have over 35 years of experience combined in treating fibroids with UFE. They have performed over 10,000 UFE procedures. Call and set up a consultation today to be on your way to a fibroid-free future!