Uterine fibroids are the most common benign tumor in African American women with 60% of African American women being affected by the age 35. The number drastically increases to 80% by age 50.
We all know at least one woman close to us suffering in silence with fibroids, whether it is a mother, sister, cousin or friend. The amount of close friends and family that we know who are affected by fibroids require the fingers on our hands and maybe even some toes.
Why are our mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and friends being disproportionately affected by such a noncancerous condition? Despite their resounding prevalence, why do fibroids among Black women remain an understudied topic?
Of the limited research that exists, we can muster some correlations worth mentioning. Considerable evidence does show that estrogen and progesterone levels enhance the growth of fibroids. With that being said, we know that increased lifetime exposure to estrogen increases the chance of fibroids. Early age at menarche falls into this category.
Currently Black girls lead the menarche race with 62% of black girls menstruating by the age of 12 compared to 35% of their white counterparts. There is a large genetic correlation to fibroid development – the daughter of a mother with fibroids is three times more likely to develop fibroids down the road.
And there has also been a study that associates chemical exposure of hair relaxers through scalp burns to fibroids, however given the absence of FDA regulation, this is difficult to prove.