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Sufficient Vitamin D Reduces the Risk of Uterine Fibroids

Update Date: Apr 20, 2013 06:41 AM EDT

Women who have adequate levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop uterine fibroids than those with insufficient levels, a new study finds.

Uterine fibroids are tumors that occur in uterus; while they are noncancerous they often cause pain and bleeding in premenopausal women and are also the leading cause of hysterectomy in the United States.

Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), took blood samples from more than 1,000 women, aged 35 to 49, living in the Washington, D.C., area from 1996 to 1999. The samples were analyzed for vitamin D levels, showing women with sufficient vitamin D were 32 percent less likely to develop uterine fibroids than those with insufficient vitamin D levels.

The findings also showed that women who spent more than an hour outside per day had a 40 percent decreased risk of fibroids. Vitamin D is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but it can also come from food and supplements.

Of the participants, fewer black women than white women had sufficient vitamin D levels, but the reduction in the risk of fibroids was about the same for both white and black women with sufficient vitamin D levels, according to Health Day News.

"It would be wonderful if something as simple and inexpensive as getting some natural sunshine on their skin each day could help women reduce their chance of getting fibroids," study leader Donna Baird, a researcher at the NIEHS, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in an institute news release.

Although these findings are consistent with previous laboratory studies, Baird said further research needs to be conducted.

"This study adds to a growing body of literature showing the benefits of vitamin D," Linda Birnbaum, director of the NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program, said in the news release.

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