A prospective cohort study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG) has concluded that consumption of dairy products during adolescence—specifically yogurt and ice cream—may reduce risk of a subsequent endometriosis diagnosis.
“No previous studies had looked at whether diet during adolescence could influence an endometriosis diagnosis,” said co-author Holly Harris, ScD, MPH, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
“Adolescence may be a critical window of exposure because endometriosis symptom onset often occurs during this time period,” Dr. Harris told Contemporary OB/GYN. “Furthermore, dietary exposures during adolescence have been linked to hormonally related conditions diagnosed in adulthood, thus we hypothesized that adolescence might be a crucial time period for diet to influence future endometriosis diagnosis.”
The study is part of the Nurses’ Health Study II, which has prospectively collected data since 1989.
In 1998, when participants were between the ages of 34 and 51, they completed a 124-item food frequency questionnaire about their high school diet (HS-FFQ). Among 32,868 premenopausal women from 1998 to 2013, there were 581 cases of endometriosis, which was defined as self-reported, laparoscopically confirmed disease.
Women who consumed more than four daily servings of dairy foods during adolescence had a 32% lower risk of endometriosis during adulthood (95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.47 to 0.96; Ptrend= 0.04) compared to women consuming one or few servings per day.The association was similar for both low-fat and high-fat dairy foods.
For instance, women who consumed at least two servings of yogurt per week as an adolescent had a 29% lower risk of endometriosis (95% CI: 0.52 to 0.97; Ptrend = 0.02) versus those consuming less than one serving per week. Likewise, women who consumed at least one daily serving of ice cream during adolescence had a 38% lower risk of endometriosis (95% CI: 0.40 to 0.94; Ptrend = 0.20) compared to those who consumed less than one serving per week.
Dr. Harris reports no relevant financial disclosures.