What increases my risk for uterine fibroids?

Dr. John C. Lipman, MD
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

No one knows what causes uterine fibroids, and therefore it is not possible to prevent them from forming. The following 3 factors increase your risk for developing fibroids: being a woman of childbearing age, being of African-American ancestry and being obese. While we can't change our genetics, women suffering with fibroids can exercise, eat right and try to be as lean as possible. It is important for heart health, prevention of Type II diabetes, hypertension and stroke, and now we can also add fibroid health to this list.

Although the exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, there are several factors that may affect your risk. Most uterine fibroids develop in women of reproductive age—that is, women who have undergone puberty but have not yet gone through menopause—and being 30 or older but pre-menopausal may increase your risk. Uterine fibroids may also have a genetic link, so your risk may be increased if you have a relative who's had fibroids. Racial background may also affect your risk. Black women are more likely than women of other races, and their fibroids are more likely to appear at a younger age and to cause symptoms. Being obese may also increase your risk for uterine fibroids; the more obese the greater the risk. Diet is also thought to be a factor; a diet high in red meat or ham and low in green vegetables may also raise your risk.

Women in their 30s and 40s are at highest risk of developing fibroids. Women of African-American, Hispanic and Asian heritage also seem to be at an increased risk, for reasons not understood.

Uterine fibroids are familial and more common in African American women. Since fibroids tend to grow under the influence of estrogen, it is possible that they may grow more quickly in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Dr. Evelyn Minaya, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Watch as obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Evelyn Minaya discusses which women are at greatest risk for uterine fibroids.

Dr. Kevin W. Windom, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Any woman is at risk, but it is most commonly seen in people with a genetic predisposition to fibroids. African American women have the highest risk of fibroids. Women who are obese also have a higher risk of fibroids, and the thought is that the fatty tissue in an obese patient will convert other hormones into estrogen-like hormones; and this excess amount of estrogen can cause fibroids to grow. There is some thought that people who have a diet high in animal fat can develop fibroids.

Dr. Jessica A. Shepherd, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Risk factors for uterine fibroids include age, race (African American women have a higher risk overall), heredity and obesity. Watch as OBGYN specialist Jessica Shepherd, MD, explains the risk factors to be aware of when it comes to fibroids.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.