The review showed that eating meat and fatty foods may lead to excess estrogen in the body, which can cause endometriosis pain to flare up.
A new review conducted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has looked at the correlation between red meat and endometriosis.
The findings have been published in the medical journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where cells that are usually in the lining of the womb can be found in other parts of the body like the bladder, bowel, and ovaries. It can cause symptoms such as pain, heavy periods, fatigue, and even lead to infertility. In some cases, it can also cause some bowel and bladder issues as well.
The condition affects roughly 190 million women and girls of reproductive age globally.
Meat consumption and endometriosis risk
In the review, conducted to better understand nutrition’s role in treating and preventing endometriosis, higher estrogen levels were linked to worsened pain and inflammation.
It also found that eating meat and fatty foods may lead to excess estrogen in the body.
The Nurses’ Health Study II showed that those consuming more than two servings of red meat per day had a 56% greater risk of endometriosis, compared with those consuming less than one serving of red meat per week.
An Italian study linked increased risks of developing endometriosis with a higher consumption of beef, other red meat, and ham.
Plant foods help cut endometriosis risk
Meanwhile, the review found that cutting dietary fat and increasing dietary fiber, which is found only in plant foods, worked to reduce estrogen levels by about 10–25%.
A study conducted on women with painful periods showed that a vegan diet with low fat content led to an increase in plasma concentrations of sex-hormone binding globulin. This increase is likely to reduce estrogen activity. As a result, the severity and duration of pain were reduced, and premenstrual symptoms were moderated.
Furthermore, the review noted that vitamins C and E from plant sources may alleviate endometriosis symptoms.
Hana Kahleova, MD, PhD, is the director of clinical research at the PCRM. She said: “Eating meat and fatty foods may lead to excess estrogen in the body, which can cause endometriosis pain to flare, while fiber—found only in fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans—may help reduce pain by flushing excess estrogen out of the body.
The review also highlighted seaweed’s beneficial role in reducing higher levels of estrogen circulating in the body. A case study of premenopausal women found that intake of bladderwrack, an edible brown kelp, reduced estrogen levels.
While these studies suggest the potential benefits of seaweed consumption on estrogen concentrations, further research is warranted.
Other studies on meat and women health
Red meat has been associated with various health problems and numerous studies have highlighted this.
A study conducted by the University of Leeds in April revealed that women who consume red meat may have a higher risk of colon cancer.
Another study conducted by Massachusetts’ Tufts University and the Cleveland Clinic found that a serving of red meat can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22%.
On the other hand, there is growing evidence that plant-based diets promote better health and reduce disease risk. In fact, reducing the intake of animal products can help protect against breast cancer, while soy-rich diets are also linked to a lower risk of developing the disease.
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