Vitamin D may help treat women with uterine fibroids
Uterine fibroids are the most common non-cancerous tumours in women of childbearing age. Fibroids grow within and around the wall of the uterus. Thirty per cent of women 25 to 44 years of age report fibroid-related symptoms, such as lower back pain, heavy vaginal bleeding or painful menstrual periods. Uterine fibroids also are associated with infertility and such pregnancy complications as miscarriage or preterm labour. Other than surgical removal of the uterus, there are few treatment options for women experiencing severe fibroid-related symptoms and about 2, 00,000 US women undergo the procedure each year. To treat patients suffering from fibroids and provide better results researchers have discovered that treatment with vitamin D reduced the size of uterine fibroids in laboratory rats predisposed to developing the benign tumours.
For the current study, the researchers tested the vitamin D treatment on a strain of rats genetically predisposed to developing fibroid tumours. After examining the animals and confirming the presence of fibroids in 12 of them, the researchers divided the rats into two groups of six each: those that would receive vitamin D and those that would not. In the first group, small pumps implanted under the skin delivered a continuous dose of vitamin D for three weeks. The researchers then examined the animals in both groups. Fibroids increased in size in the untreated rats, but, in the rats receiving vitamin D, the tumours had shrunk dramatically. On average, uterine fibroids in the group receiving vitamin D were 75 per cent smaller than those in the untreated group.
“Additional research is needed to confirm vitamin D as a potential treatment for women with uterine fibroids. But it is also an essential nutrient for the health of muscle, bone and the immune system, and it is important for everyone to receive an adequate amount of the vitamin,” said Scientist, Dr Al-Hendy.
Louis De Paolo, Ph D, Chief, Reproductive Sciences Branch, NIH Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the study, added “The study results provide a promising new lead in the search for a non-surgical treatment for fibroids that does not affect fertility.”