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Obese Women Have Lower Rate of Endometriosis

Is there a relationship between body mass index (BMI) and endometriosis? According to a study published in the journal Human Reproduction, obese women have a lower incidence of the disease than leaner women. The 20-year Nurses’ Health Study II collected data from 116,430 women ages 25 to 42; amongst them, there were 5,504 cases of endometriosis confirmed with laparoscopy. The study found that obese women had a 39% lower rate of endometriosis compared to women of normal or low weight.

Endometriosis results when the tissue that is normally inside the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows outside of the uterine cavity. It can be a painful, chronic disease.

According to the researchers, “This study provides strong evidence that a woman’s current BMI and BMI at age 18 are significantly inversely related to the rate of laparoscopically confirmed endometriosis, although the most robust association was observed with BMI at age 18.”

"The study does not suggest that the morbidly obese women are, in some way, healthier than the lean women and that is the reason for their lower risk of endometriosis. It is more likely that factors related to infertility, which is more common among the very obese, are linked to the reduced risk of endometriosis," says Dr. Divya Shah of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and lead author of the study.


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