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Understanding the Fibroids Genetic Component

Posted on May 13, 2024

Fibroids are muscular uterine tumors that are almost always non-cancerous. A common problem during your reproductive years, up to 70% of women will develop them in their lives. Yet, while they're common in all groups, Black women develop fibroids more frequently than white women. And they also seem to develop more severe symptoms, and receive their diagnoses at earlier ages. As of now, science hasn't pinpointed the exact reasons why fibroids develop. But many wonder if there's a fibroids genetic component? Below, we shed some light on this question.

a strand of DNA

Are Fibroids Genetic?

The more we learn about what causes fibroids, the more we know that there is a link between risk and certain genetic mutations. In fact, one American Journal of Human Genetics study found that variants in the FASN gene (which leads to more FAS (fatty acid synthase) protein production), could be linked to fibroid risk.

But how did they reach that conclusion? FAS protein levels were three times higher in fibroid tissue than in normal uterine tissue. Still, this discovery was not unique to fibroids genetics sampling. In fact, higher FAS protein levels can be found in other tumors as well, so we can't use this evidence to conclude that fiboids are genetic. So…

Can we Say That Fibroids Run in Families?

Anecdotal evidence reveals that fibroids do seem to run in families. So, if your sister, mom, aunt or grandma had these uterine tumors, you're more likely to develop them than a friend without a family history of fibroids. And yet, your genes and family history don't paint the full picture of your risk factors for fibroids.

Other Risk Factors to Consider

Hormone levels, especially progesterone and estrogen, increase your fibroid risk when they become elevated. Obesity can also increase your fibroid risk, possibly because fat cells contain higher levels of estrogen than other cells. Also, environmental factors, including exposure to air pollution or the kind of hormone-disrupting chemicals found in certain hair products, also increase fibroid risk. So, while you can’t do much about the fibroid risk factors you've inherited, you may be able to reduce your chances of developing these tumors by balancing hormones, reducing exposure to chemicals, and reaching an ideal weight via a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Telling Your Own Fibroid Story

While fibroids genetic component certainly influences your risk level, you can take some control of your health. As we mentioned earleir, focusing on a healthy lifestyle can reduce your fibroid risk while providing additional benefits. Still, fibroid prevention can never be guaranteed. So if you have an increased risk do to family history, make sure to take note of any developing fibroid symptoms, including heavy periods or pelvic pain. Because, if you receive an earlier diagnosis, you are more likely to be able to find relief with minimally invasive treatments such as Uterine Fibroid Embolization. Need more information on this procedure? Click here to request a consultation with our fibroid experts in Dallas.

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