Can Omega-3's Protect Against Endometriosis?

Omega 3s( — Doctors don’t know exactly what causes endometriosis — a painful condition in which tissue that normally lines the uterus starts growing on other organs in the body, such as the ovaries, bladder, or bowels. The condition is not only painful, it can also cause fertility problems. But a new pair of studies seem to suggest that paying attention to what we eat and put on our bodies could significantly reduce the risk of developing the condition.

THE DETAILS: In a study looking at endometriosis and the types of fat women eat, researchers analyzed 12 years of data and found that while total fat consumption was not associated with endometriosis risk, the women who ate the most omega-3 fatty acids were 22 percent less likely to be diagnosed with endometriosis when compared to the group that ate the lowest amount. On the flip side, the most unhealthy fats, trans fats, increased the risk of developing endometriosis by nearly 50 percent.

The second study investigating a lifestyle link to developing endometriosis found that women exposed to phthalates, specifically a certain type called mono-butyl phthalate, were more likely to develop endometriosis than women with the lowest level of these phthalates in their bodies. Phthalates are plastics chemicals found in fragranced candles, shampoos, makeup, and other personal-care products, as well as vinyl products, and their estrogenic properties have been shown to cause genital deformities in baby boys and disrupt our bodies’ hormonal system.

WHAT IT MEANS: There are hundreds of studies that link what we eat and absorb through our skin with all sorts of ills, including diabetes, obesity, and even some cancers. These recent studies looking at endometriosis, fat intake, and chemical exposure through food and beauty products mark the latest evidence supporting the fact that lifestyle choices can affect fertility. Besides trouble conceiving, endometriosis causes miserable pain and heavy periods, and is often treated with pain meds and hormones, which have their own side effects, or even surgery.

Here are some steps you can take that may cut your risk of developing endometriosis.