By: Mary Lou Ballweg
The news of higher risk of heart disease in women with endometriosis, especially younger women, (Circulation, March 29, 2016) may be shocking and cause some fear.
But if you’ve followed our work all these years, you already know that endo is a systemic (whole-body) inflammatory disease. And inflammation, as is clear in the scientific literature, is closely tied to numerous health problems, including –
- “Atopic” diseases (allergies, asthma, eczema) – the Association was the first to study and call attention to these
- Autoimmune diseases (also our work), in which the immune system wrongly targets our own organs and tissues for attack
- Cancer, with higher risk for 12 cancers
- And heart disease now, also.
Despite how frightening all this is, however, it all boils down to inflammation, not just misplaced tissue to be cut out over and over without addressing the real underlying dysfunction.
Armed with this knowledge, there’s so much you can do to counter these risks!
Here are some specific steps:
Certain vitamins and supplements are heart healthy and counter inflammation and oxidative stress. They include omega-3 fatty acids such as purified fish oil, antioxidants such as vitamin C, detoxifiers such as glutathione, “relaxing” minerals for the tight muscles (including the uterus, the strongest muscle in the body) such as magnesium, and multivitamins and multiminerals to help our bodies that are trying so hard to heal us. All of these are available from the Association, top-quality supplements typically only available from healthcare providers. Click here to learn more.
Calming inflammation also means working to calm and teach our immune system “tolerance” for our inflammatory triggers. For most of us, this means working with excellent environmental medicine specialists, allergists, and others, to be tested not just for the traditional inhalant allergies but also foods, chemicals, and delayed hypersensitivity reactions. Much more information than can be included here is found in Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health. Especially see the chapters on immunotherapy and prevention. Click here to learn more.
“Eat a healthy diet” rolls off the tongue so glibly, but what does that mean for women with endo? Besides identifying food intolerances (one of mine right now is broccoli, certainly healthy, which I love and must have eaten too much of!), many women with endo find they’re healthier eating organic; steering clear of cow dairy and gluten; and eating limited carbohydrates and sweets. See Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health, especially the chapter, “What You Eat Affects Your Endo” and Endometriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition. Both books are available from the Association. Click here to learn more.
Over 70% of the immune system resides in the intestinal tract and is clearly problematic for many women with endo. You can read up on “gut dysbiosis” and healing the gut in our books.
Toxic chemicals have been linked to endo in research all over the world. Eliminate pesticides, harsh cleaning chemicals, toxic fragrances, bleached tampons and pads, and toxic cosmetics, all toxic to the immune system. For detailed background and alternatives, see The Endometriosis Sourcebook and Endometriosis: The Complete Reference for Taking Charge of Your Health, especially “Why Endometriosis Is an Environmental Issue,” “Things You Can Do Every Day to Help Yourself and the Environment,” and “Is Your Home a Health Hazard?” Click here to learn more.
The other big recommendation, of course, is exercise. Impossible when we’re in bad pain or a fibromyalgia flare (that, too, is from our research published with the NIH). But when you can, even if it’s just a gentle walk, do it and you’ll feel a bit of empowerment.
Be sure to talk with your gynecologist about various hormonal treatments before going on them. Some have negative lipid effects, which can contribute to heart disease. More information is available in our books.
Yes, all this is challenging. But if you can avoid a heart attack, it’s worth it!
We’d love to hear from women what they think of this news. And please share your tips for what has helped you. We’re working on our fourth book now – what would you like to see covered in the book?
Finally, if you can, please help keep our work going with a donation – any amount is appreciated! Click here to learn more.
Source: Endometriosis Association