Uterine fibroids, noncancerous growths that form in your uterus, are a common concern for many women. These growths can vary in size and number, and they often develop during your childbearing years. They can cause pain and heavy periods, and can even impact your fertility.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with fibroids, you might be wondering if there's a familial link.
Here, our expert team at Fresno Fibroid Center explores the relationship between fibroids and genetics and whether or not these benign tumors tend to run in families.
Do fibroids run in families?
Yes, fibroids do have a genetic component, but they don't follow a straightforward hereditary pattern. There are two genes connected to fibroid development: gene TP53 and ESR1. If your mother or sister has fibroids, your chance of developing them is about three times higher.
However, just because your mother or sister has fibroids doesn't mean you’ll get them, and if you don't have a family history of fibroids, you’re not immune to them either. There are many genetic and environmental factors that contribute to their development.
Other risk factors for uterine fibroids
Your family history is just one piece of the puzzle. Other risk factors include:
Although any woman can develop uterine fibroids, African-American women are more likely to develop them, according to the Office on Women’s Health. About 70% of Caucasian women develop fibroids by age 50, while they occur in about 80% of African-American women by age 50.
Lifestyle and environmental factors
In addition to genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors can influence fibroid development.
These factors include:
- Diets high in red meat and low in fruit, vegetables, and vitamin D
- Exposure to certain chemicals
You can control your lifestyle risk factors by exercising, eating a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, limiting red meat, and reducing the toxic load in your environment.
The role of hormones
Hormones, especially estrogen and progesterone, are known to fuel the growth of uterine fibroids. Genetics can influence how your body processes and responds to these hormones, and potentially affects your susceptibility to fibroids.
Know all of your risk factors
While uterine fibroids do have a genetic component, they don't necessarily run in families in a predictable manner. Having a family member with fibroids may increase your risk, but it's far from a guarantee. A combination of genetic, hormonal, environmental, and lifestyle factors contributes to the development of fibroids.
Instead of focusing on just one risk factor, it’s important to look at all of them. You can’t control risk factors like genetics, age, and race, but you can influence your risk factors like weight and diet.
What if you spot the signs of fibroids
If you have concerns about fibroids or a family history of fibroids, talk with your Fresno Fibroid Center provider. Regular checkups and discussions about your reproductive health can help detect and address fibroids early, should they develop. Knowledge about your family's medical history and open communication with our medical team can be valuable in managing this common health issue.
Even if you adopt healthy lifestyle habits, fibroids may still develop, and if they do, our team is here to spot them as early as possible. Here in Fresno, California, we work with you to find the right fibroid treatment to address your symptoms through a variety of treatment options.
To get started with a consultation, call 559-216-0746 or click here to schedule an appointment.