Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) affect many women trying to conceive; if fibroids are large enough to distort the uterine cavity or disrupt the integrity of implantation sites they may have to be surgically removed. After surgery, it becomes important to know which natural strategies may help to deter fibroid re-growth to keep the uterus clear for conception. If fibroids are small they may be left in place, once again, it becomes important to know how to curtail their growth to improve the chances of conception and reduce the need for surgery.
A number of natural strategies have shown promise such as optimizing vitamin D levels, attending to estrogen metabolism and using green tea extracts; two Turkish studies have demonstrated that regular consumption of tomatoes and/or supplements of lycopene - the main antioxidant in tomatoes - may also help to deter uterine fibroids.
These studies were performed on Japanese Quail - which are extremely prone to fibroids making them a good animal model for testing promising fibroid treatments. The first Turkish study (1) followed one hundred and twenty quails who received two different doses of lycopene or no lycopene daily. Quails which consumed lycopene daily had higher blood levels of vitamin A, C, and E, along with lesser numbers of smaller sized fibroids. Lycopene also reduced markers of oxidative stress and homocysteine and the researchers concluded that:
"...dietary supplementation with lycopene reduces the incidence and size of spontaneously occurring leiomyoma of the oviduct in the Japanese quail."
"Clinical trials should be conducted to investigate the efficacy of lycopene supplementation in the prevention and treatment of uterine leiomyoma in humans."
A second similar Turkish study (2) investigated the effects of tomato powder on the development of fibroids also in Japanese Quail over a one year period. This study discovered that:
"Tomato powder supplementation significantly decreased the number of leiomyomas..."
Fibroids in the tomato-eating group were smaller in size and tomato-eating was also asociated with higher blood levels of various antioxidants such as: lycopene, lutein, zeaxantin, and vitamins A, C and E. Concurrently, levels of MDA which is a marker of oxidative stress were significantly decreased, the researchers concluded that:
"...dietary supplementation with tomato powder reduces the incidence and size of spontaneously occurring leiomyoma..."
"Clinical trials should be conducted to investigate the efficacy of tomato powder supplementation in the prevention and treatment of uterine leiomyoma in humans."
If you have uterine fibroids, or have had a fibroid removed it is possible that consuming tomatoes daily (especially cooked tomatoes) or taking a supplement of lycopene may help to keep you fibroid-free or minimize fibroid growth while trying to conceive. Another good source of dietary lycopene is watermelon.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT intended to diagnose, offer medical or dietetic treatment or to replace medical or dietetic advice for which you should consult a suitably qualified physician or dietitian.
1. Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):181-9. Lycopene supplementation prevents the development of spontaneous smooth muscle tumors of the oviduct in Japanese quail.
Sahin K, Ozercan R, Onderci M, Sahin N, Gursu MF, Khachik F, Sarkar FH, Munkarah A, Ali-Fehmi R, Kmak D, Kucuk O.
2. Nutr Cancer. 2007;59(1):70-5. Dietary tomato powder supplementation in the prevention of leiomyoma of the oviduct in the Japanese quail.
Sahin K, Ozercan R, Onderci M, Sahin N, Khachik F, Seren S, Kucuk O.