Foods & Phytochemicals: A New Area of Fibroid Research
Alicia Armeli

Phytochemicals are substances found in plants that are believed to prevent and possibly treat disease. Using this knowledge, researchers are now exploring how different plant foods could affect the growth and development of uterine fibroids.

What are phytochemicals?

Plants naturally make phytochemicals as a way to protect themselves from harmful things such as disease, UV damage, and pollution. Once plants are ingested, phytochemicals are thought to provide the human body with same protection. Common foods that have phytochemicals are fruits, vegetables, cereals, legumes, herbs, spices, nuts, and certain beverages.1

What are uterine fibroids?

Uterine fibroids are common noncancerous tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus and affect an estimated 70% of women.1 For some, fibroids may not be bothersome. However, approximately one in four women with fibroids suffer from severe symptoms like heavy painful periods, pelvic pressure, urinary incontinence, and infertility.1 Despite how common they are, it’s still unclear why and how fibroids develop.

Can phytochemicals help?

Research has identified specific factors that are important for fibroids to thrive: inflammation, the thickening of tissue, the replication of abnormal cells, and the growth of new vessels that give fibroids their own blood supply.1 By targeting the cell-to-cell communication responsible for these factors, phytochemicals could be beneficial in the future prevention and treatment of fibroids.

The following infographic shows the 14 phytochemicals that may influence fibroid growth and development. In laboratory studies, these phytochemicals have been found to similarly change cell communication pathways in other diseases. In this way, researchers are hopeful they could have the same effect in fibroid therapy.1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR   Alicia Armeli is a Health Freelance Writer, Editor, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad and volunteering in her community.

REFERENCES

  1. Islam, M., Segars, J., Castellucci, M., & Ciarmela, P. (2017). Dietary phytochemicals for possible preventive and therapeutic option of uterine fibroids: Signaling pathways as target. Pharmacological Reports, 69(1): 57–70. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2016.10.013. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1734114016302973