Fibroids more severe for African-American women

Among women with uterine fibroids, African Americans tend to be younger and more severely affected than white women, researchers report.

“There are underlying genetic liabilities in some women to develop uterine fibroids, and this finding is reinforced by our study identifying race as a risk factor for symptom severity and age at diagnosis,” Dr. Cynthia C. Morton told Reuters Health.

Morton, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, and her colleagues examined data on women with fibroids who had at least one sister who also had the condition.

Compared with white participants, the investigators report in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, African-American women were significantly younger at diagnosis, had fewer days between periods, and more severe menstrual pain.

The team is currently scanning DNA samples from about 375 affected sister-pairs and their family members to try to identify genes linked to a predisposition to develop fibroids. “We will be looking at all of the environmental variables,” Morton explained, to look for factors that increase or decrease any genetic predisposition.

“Due to the health disparity of uterine fibroids for black women, it is especially critical to the success of our research to have them participate” in research, Morton emphasized.

“Participation involves completion of a questionnaire survey and providing a blood or saliva sample, as outlined on our Web site ( concerning the ‘Finding Genes for Fibroids’ study,” she added.

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, February 2008.

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