Demystifying (My) Lipomas
Since I was diagnosed with lipomas in the fall of 2010, I’ve had to make some major lifestyle changes in things like hair care products and, most drastically, foods I can eat. Every once in a while a question comes up i.e. “Why aren’t you having any edamame? You love the stuff!” or “Why can’t you get a shampoo at a hair salon?” So I thought I’d take a minute to explain my particular situation, what caused my lipomas (as best the doctors know) and how I’ve been combating them by watching what goes into and onto my body – along with some exercise.
As a category, WebMD describes lipomas as:
“… a growth of fat cells in a thin, fibrous capsule usually found just below the skin. Lipomas are found most often on the torso, neck, upper thighs, upper arms, and armpits, but they can occur almost anywhere in the body. One or more lipomas may be present at the same time. Lipomas are the most common noncancerous soft tissue growth.”
Wikipedia is a little more brutal:
A lipoma is a benign tumor composed of adipose tissue. It is the most common form of soft tissue tumor. Lipomas are soft to the touch, usually movable, and are generally painless. Many lipomas are small (under one centimeter diameter) but can enlarge to sizes greater than six centimeters. Lipomas are commonly found in adults from 40 to 60 years of age, but can also be found in children. Some sources claim that malignant transformation can occur, while others say that this has yet to be convincingly documented.
My doctor noted there are several different types. She believed (correctly it seems) that the type I have is a conglomeration of plant estrogen and excess fatty tissue. No, being overweight doesn’t cause lipomas – however, they are composed of fat deposits so it stands to reason that excess fat could potentially help them form (WebMD doesn’t believe this, other sources aren’t concrete on the issue). And an increase in fat cells can make you a bit more susceptible. (Honestly, no one really knows a ton about them – they’re non-cancerous so they just remove them and move on). Because mine formed in the chest area, an excess of plant estrogen was deemed a likely contributor.
The solution for me? Get rid of excess fat. Cut back on consumption of plant estrogen. To do part 2, I had to get educated quickly. Luckily my doctor gave me a cheat sheet that showed me foods high in plant estrogen and foods that counteract plant estrogen. (Side note, women in menopause will sometimes do the OPPOSITE of what I have to do to get more plant estrogen into their bodies.)
In short I had to do the following:
- Give up almost all soy products.
- Stop using any shampoo with tea tree oil (most salons) or lavendar.
- Avoid other high plant estrogen foods like apples, papaya, pumpkin, wheat (yep), pomegranate & yams.
- No more egg yolks.
There are a ton of other things that are lesser evils – and eating things like broccoli, berries, onions, citrus and green beans counteract the effects of plant estrogens.
So, almost 2 years later I have no issues with lipomas. No lumps. No pain. No adverse effects. And I’ve had no surgery. I lost ~50 lbs (which I needed to anyway) and eat better (also not a bad thing to do anyway).
Please note that nothing in this post is medical advice. I’m not a doctor. Not even pretending to be one. Nothing is a recommendation for you. You should do what I did and talk to doctors and specialists. My lipomas were presumed to be tied directly to these things – and making these two changes has helped me significantly (FYI, if I eat a small quantity of edamame I’ll have a small lump within 24 hours – so I take the diet piece seriously). Lipomas are tricky and complex. Your situation is your own.
At the end of the day, the entire experience helped me to make lifestyle changes that have made me healthier and happier. So whatever the cause or potential solution, I’m better off today than I was. I’m not 100% strict on any of these (except no soybeans), but now you know why I order egg whites. Pass on edamame. And avoid wheat as much as I can.