Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Endometriosis Risk Lower with Omega 3 Food Intake

Women whose diets are rich in foods containing Omega-3 oils appear to be less likely to develop endometriosis, while those whose diets are heavily laden with trans fats might be more likely to develop the debilitating condition, new research suggests. The study, one of the largest to have investigated the links between diet and endometriosis, was published today (Wednesday 24 March) in the journal of Human Reproduction.

The study found that while the total amount of fat in the diet did not matter, the type of fat did indeed make a difference. Women who ate the highest amount of long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids were 22% less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis than those who ate the least; those who ate the most trans fats had a 48% increased risk, compared with those who ate the least.

These findings, resulting from 70,709 American nurses who were followed for 12 years, suggest that diet may be important in the development of endometriosis. They also provide more evidence that a low fat diet is not necessarily the healthiest. Another impact from the research is further evidence for the case that eliminating trans fats from the food supply is a very good thing.

The study’s leader, Dr. Stacey Missmer, is an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Millions of women worldwide suffer from endometriosis. Many women have been searching for something they can actually do for themselves, or their daughters, to reduce the risk of developing the disease, and these findings suggest that dietary changes may be something they can do. The results need to be confirmed by further research, but this study gives us a strong indication that we’re on the right track in identifying food rich in Omega-3 oils as protective for endometriosis and trans fats as detrimental,” Dr. Missmer added.

Endometriosis occurs when pieces of the womb lining, or endometrium, is found outside the womb. This tissue behaves in the same way as it does in the womb – growing during the menstrual cycle in response to oestrogen in anticipation of an egg being fertilized and shedding as blood when there’s no pregnancy. However, when it grows outside the womb, it is trapped and cannot leave the body as menstruation. Some women experience no symptoms, but for many it is very incapacitating, causing severe pain. The tissue can also stick to other organs, sometimes leading to infertility. It afflicts about 10% of women. The cause is poorly understood and there is no cure. Symptoms are traditionally treated with pain medication, hormone drugs or surgery.

It's nice to hear another Omega 3 success story. Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids are found mostly in oily fish. They have been linked to reduced heart disease risk. Trans fats are artificially produced through hydrogenation, which turns liquid vegetable oil into solid fat. Used in thousands of processed foods, from snacks to ready-meals, they have already been linked to increased heart disease risk. We read frequently about various communities around the world that have instituted bans on these dangerous fats.


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