Fibroids Causes and risk factors
The root cause of fibroids is not yet known, but further research is being done to understand the growth of fibroids. While that work continues, there are several potential causes and risk factors that may impact the likelihood of developing fibroids in the future.
Some women are more genetically predisposed to fibroid growth than others. Patients with a family history of fibroids need special care and counseling to ensure any potential fibroid growth is being closely monitored and, when necessary, treated.
Age and Ethnicity
By age 50, about 80% of women will have fibroids. As patients get older, their risk of developing fibroids increases. But for women who are past menopause, their risk declines in accordance with decreasing estrogen production.2
Research3 shows patients of African descent are genetically at greater risk for fibroid development. Routine ultrasounds should be performed regularly to check for fibroid growth. If fibroids are diagnosed, patients should work with a fibroid specialist to explore potential treatment options and keep symptoms under control. This is especially important for patients interested in fertility.
Risk Factors for Fibroids
- Obesity. Any risk factor that increases the production of estrogen will cause increased fibroid growth. Obesity is one of the commonly cited risk factors for fibroids. In women with an elevated BMI, higher fat levels allow for more conversion of male hormones to female hormones through an enzyme in the fat cells, aromatase.9 Higher levels of aromatase therefore increase the production of estrogen, which causes increased fibroid growth.
- Estrogen related diet. To a much lesser extent, higher intake of foods high in estrogen derivatives, such as tofu, yams, and other foods may increase estrogen levels enough to cause fibroid growth. However, it would take a very high intake of these foods to see growth of fibroids.
- Vitamin D deficiency – Studies5-7 have identified vitamin D deficiency as a notable risk factor for fibroids. Supplementing your diet with added vitamin D may help to slow fibroid growth.
- Not eating enough fruit – Adding additional servings of fruit into your diet may help to lower the risk of developing fibroids. Studies have shown this is especially apparent with increased servings of citrus fruits.4
- High diet of red meat – Some research9 shows women who report eating higher amounts of red meat in their diet are more likely to have fibroids. Decreasing the amount of red meat and replacing it with additional servings of fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against fibroid growth.
- Using hair relaxers – One study10 found a correlation between frequent use of hair relaxers (and associated burns on the scalp) and a higher incidence of fibroids. The researchers hypothesized that burns on the scalp may cause chemicals to enter the body and increase fibroid risk.
- Stress – Increased levels of stress can cause changes in hormone levels that may affect fibroid growth. Reducing stress may help to decrease fibroid risk.11
Treatment Is Available
Although the exact cause of fibroids may be unknown, effective treatment is available. Many physicians will suggest an open myomectomy for fibroids. Many patients are not aware that an open surgery can result in a long recovery time of two months or more, significant pain, and higher complications. Minimally invasive options such as the LAAM for myomectomy and DualPort GYN for hysterectomy, provides patients with better results, a much shorter recovery time, and very small incisions.
The specialists at CIGC are experts in diagnosing and treating fibroids through advanced minimally invasive surgical procedures. Our experts have performed more than 25,000 GYN surgeries with just two small incisions, no hospital stay and a quick recovery. If you have been diagnosed with fibroids and you’re looking for the most effective treatment option for your case, schedule an appointment today to talk through all available options.
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- Barjon K, Mikhail LN. Uterine Leiomyomata. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; August 10, 2020.
- Stewart EA, Cookson CL, Gandolfo RA, Schulze-Rath R. Epidemiology of uterine fibroids: a systematic review. BJOG. 2017;124(10):1501-1512. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.14640
- Stewart EA, Nicholson WK, Bradley L, Borah BJ. The burden of uterine fibroids for African-American women: results of a national survey. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2013;22(10):807-816. doi:10.1089/jwh.2013.4334
- Wise LA, Radin RG, Palmer JR, Kumanyika SK, Boggs DA, Rosenberg L. Intake of fruit, vegetables, and carotenoids in relation to risk of uterine leiomyomata. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94(6):1620-1631. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.016600
- Sabry M, Halder SK, Allah AS, Roshdy E, Rajaratnam V, Al-Hendy A. Serum vitamin D3 level inversely correlates with uterine fibroid volume in different ethnic groups: a cross-sectional observational study. Int J Womens Health. 2013;5:93-100. doi:10.2147/IJWH.S38800
- Baird DD, Hill MC, Schectman JM, Hollis BW. Vitamin d and the risk of uterine fibroids. Epidemiology. 2013;24(3):447-453. doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e31828acca0
- Paffoni A, Somigliana E, Vigano’ P, et al. Vitamin D status in women with uterine leiomyomas. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(8):E1374-E1378. doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1777
- Ilaria Soave, Marci R. From obesity to uterine fibroids: an intricate network. Curr Med Res Opin. 2018;34(11):1877-1879. doi:10.1080/03007995.2018.1505606
- Chiaffarino F, Parazzini F, La Vecchia C, Chatenoud L, Di Cintio E, Marsico S. Diet and uterine myomas. Obstet Gynecol. 1999;94(3):395-398. doi:10.1016/s0029-7844(99)00305-1
- Wise LA, Palmer JR, Reich D, Cozier YC, Rosenberg L. Hair relaxer use and risk of uterine leiomyomata in African-American women. Am J Epidemiol. 2012;175(5):432-440. doi:10.1093/aje/kwr351
- Qin H, Lin Z, Vásquez E, Xu L. The association between chronic psychological stress and uterine fibroids risk: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Stress Health. 2019;35(5):585-594. doi:10.1002/smi.2895