Fibroids are abnormal growths that develop in or on the walls of a woman’s uterus.
Sometimes these tumors become quite large and cause severe abdominal pain and heavy periods. In other cases, they cause no signs or symptoms at all. The growths are typically benign, or noncancerous.
Symptoms may include heavy periods, cramping, painful sex, and an urge to urinate.
Uterine fibroids usually appear in women of childbearing age generally between 30-40 years old, but they can show up at any age. They are also more common in black women than white women according to research.
One estimate is that 25% of African-American women will suffer from fibroids by the age of 25 and 80% will have them by age 50 (compared with 70% for white females). Compared to other racial groups, both African and African-American women have a risk three times greater for developing uterine fibroids.
They are 2-3 times likely to develop uterine fibroids at a younger age, develop a higher number of fibroids and have more fibroid symptoms.
Black women also have higher rates of hospitalization for fibroids. They are more likely to undergo hysterectomy (removal of the uterus by surgery) for fibroids and 7 times more likely to have a myomectomy (surgical removal of one or more fibroids). Blood transfusions related to fibroid surgery are substantially higher among black women.
According to research and studies which have taken place over the years, here are some factors that increase the risk of fibroids in black women.
Researchers have found genetic differences between fibroids and normal cells in the uterus which are prevalent among black women.
2. Vitamin D Deficiency
Some studies have found a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and higher rates of fibroids. This may affect people with darker skin more than people with lighter skin because they have more melanin in their skin. Higher levels of melanin prevent the skin from synthesizing as much vitamin D from sunlight.
Taking vitamin D supplements, however, may have a protective effect against fibroids.
3. Diet and Body Weight
Research shows there may be a link between nutrition, body weight, and fibroids as women with a higher body weight may be more likely to develop them.
According to the American Psychological Association, obesity is more common among Black people in the U.S. than other groups, which could explain the higher prevalence of fibroids in Black women.
4. Use Of Hair Relaxers
Researchers found the use of hair relaxers for long periods of time can cause burns or lesions on the scalp, which makes it easier for the chemicals to enter the body. The study shows there is a direct correlation between women who frequently use chemical relaxers and more fibroids by 5%.
The 1997–2009 Black Women’s Health Study assessed hair relaxer use in more than 23,000 females. Throughout the study, the researchers found a positive trend between hair relaxer use and fibroids.
Fibroids were more likely in participants who used hair relaxers more frequently, used hair relaxers long-term and experienced more burns on the scalp