Women’s Health: Reducing Risks of Endometriosis

The type of fat you eat may put you at risk for developing endometriosis. Millions of women around the world suffer from endometriosis, a disorder of the female reproductive system that can cause severe abdominal pain and cramping, and is sometimes associated with infertility. Though the causes of endometriosis are unclear, new research findings suggest that the types of fat women eat might help protect them from developing the condition.

A large study led by Stacey Missmer, an assistant professor at Harvard School of Public Health, found that women whose diets contained the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids—found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna, as well as walnuts, flax seeds, and a variety of other foods—were 22% less likely to develop endometriosis than women with the lowest levels of intake.  Additionally, women whose diets contained the highest levels of trans fats, which are found in many fried and processed foods, had a 48% increased risk of developing endometriosis compared to women with the lowest intakes.

While there is no cure for endometriosis, these recent findings offer information that could help women reduce their risk of developing the condition by making changes to their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with other health benefits as well, including heart disease prevention, lowering high blood pressure, and lowering triglycerides. This new study on endometriosis is another indication that the type of fat, rather than the amount of fat, we consume can have a positive impact on our overall health.

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