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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Vitamin D significantly reduces women's risks of developing uterine fibroids, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, found that sufficient amounts of vitamin D reduced the risk of uterine fibroids by 32%. Fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyomata, are benign tumors of the uterus that often result in pain and bleeding in premenopausal women and are a leading cause of hysterectomies. Vitamin D can come from food and supplements, but the body also produces it naturally when the skin is exposed to sun.
"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," NIEHS researcher and lead study author Donna Baird said.
The study included 1,036 women ages 35 years to 49 years living in the Washington metropolitan area between 1996 and 1999. Researchers at the NIEHS, George Washington University and the Medical University of South Carolina screened participants for fibroids using ultrasound and measured vitamin D in their bloodstreams. Those with more than 20 ng of vitamin D per mL of blood were categorized as sufficient, but some experts think greater amounts are needed for good health.