Consumption of ample omega-3s may lower endometriosis risk

April 1, 2010

A diet rich in salmon, tuna and other omega-3 oil-containing foods may reduce women's chances of developing endometriosis, compared with consumption of foods high in trans fats, new research suggests.

A diet rich in salmon, tuna, and other foods containing omega-3 fatty acids compared with consumption of foods high in trans fats may reduce a woman’s chance of developing endometriosis, according to a study reported online in the March 24 Human Reproduction.

The study, led by Stacey Missmer, ScD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, involved 70,709 American nurses who were observed for 12 years as part of the US Nurses’ Health Study II cohort.

Women who consumed the greatest amount of omega-3 fatty acids had a 22% reduced risk of endometriosis diagnosis compared with women consuming the least amount of this essential acid. Conversely, in women consuming the most trans fats, there was a 48% greater risk of endometriosis compared with women who ate the least amount of trans fats. A total of 1,199 women overall went on to develop endometriosis.

Omega-3 fatty acid consumption came primarily through full-fat salad dressings and then fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Flaxseeds and walnuts also were noted as reliable sources. Primary trans fat culprits included restaurant-based fried foods, margarine, and crackers.