Hair relaxers not the only risk factor for fibroids

Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 29, 2012

While a Boston University study published in the American Journal of Epidemiologysays chemical hair relaxers many black women use to straighten may be a risk factor for fibroids, doctors warn diet and obesity play a role, too.

“Women that tend to have a high fat diet have a little bit higher risk of developing fibroids,” said Eastern Virginia Medical Center gynecologist Stephen Davis.  "Obesity has been linked to fibroids.”

Davis says obesity causes a fluctuation in hormones, which may lead to larger and more painful fibroids in women.  Fibroids are clusters of muscle that form in the uterus that may become so painful, some women decide to have their female organs removed.

“We, for instance, see women from Asian cultures who come and start eating American foods, start to manifest fibroids,” said gynecologist Annie Williams, who also says black women are genetically predisposed to fibroids.  “Women who consume high quantities of red meat are more susceptible to fibroid enlargement and change.”

Davis says women with fibroids who smoke cigarettes may not have severe symptoms.

“Tobacco use and smoking seems to potentially limit the growth,” said Davis.  “We're not sure if that has to do with the vascular supply and the oxygen deprivation to fibroids that don't grow.”

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Study: Hair relaxers linked to fibroids