Reduce Your Risk For Endometriosis

Diet often has an effect on a given medical condition. Now, a new study suggests that eating more fresh fruit and green vegetables can lower a woman's risk for endometriosis, a condition causing chronic pelvic pain and infertility. On the other hand, say the results of the study, eating red meat and ham seems to cause a significant increase in the chances that a woman will develop the condition.

A paper about the study was published in Europe's most authoritative medical journal for reproductive medicine, Human Reproduction. The study's Milan researchers believe further investigation is necessary to determine how diet might impact on endometriosis.

Using questionnaires, the investigators reviewed the medical and reproductive histories as well as the lifestyles and diets of more than 500 women who had been diagnosed with endometriosis. An equal number of women without the condition served as controls for the group. Dr. Fabio Parazzini, from the University of Milan's Gynaecologic Clinic served as lead author of the study.

Food Items

The questionnaire asked the women about their diets in the preceding year. Women were asked how many times a week they indulged in certain food items, in particular those items containing retinoids and carotenoids in the typical Italian diet. The women were also questioned about their consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Women were asked to rate their intake for the given items as low, intermediate, or high.

The researchers found that those women who reported a high consumption of fresh fruits and green vegetables had a 40% decreased risk for developing endometriosis, while those who reported a high intake of red meat and ham increased their risk for the disease by 80-100%.  These are significant numbers.

Says Dr. Parazzini, "With a prevalence of 5% in endometriosis in Italy, this means that if our findings are confirmed in prospective studies, we have the potential to cut the prevalence of endometriosis to around 3-4%, which would mean about 200,000 prevalent cases [an approximate 10,000 new cases per year] fewer in Italy and probably 800,000 fewer prevalent cases in Europe."

Study Limitations

No link was found between the development of endometriosis and such dietary items as alcohol, coffee, whole grains, fish, cheese, milk, butter, margarine, oil, liver, or carrots. Also, there were some limitations to the study. Only a select number of foods were chosen and portion size was not included as a factor, which meant that there was no estimate of the participants' total caloric intake. Dr. Parazzini comments, "However, despite these limitations, our study does suggest that there is some link between diet and risk of endometriosis and indicates that we now need a proper prospective interventional investigation to study these factors."


Your diet may have a profound impact on developing endometriosis and on managing endometriosis.  If you have already been diagnosed with this painful condition, which is also one of the number one causes of infertility, then start eliminating red meat from your diet and adding extra servings of fresh fruit and vegetables.  Chart your daily diet and your endometroisis symptoms and see if you notice any improvement in your condition after a few weeks.

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