Fibroids and Genetics

Despite the amount of research done on the diagnosis and treatment of uterine fibroids, there are still many unanswered questions with the respect to their origin. What causes fibroids? Are fibroids hereditary? Can a woman be predisposed to leiomyomas? Why do fibroids affect more African American women than Caucasian women? How can I prevent fibroids? There are no definite answers to these and other questions.

Over the past several years, more and more women and physicians have started campaigns to educate others about uterine myomas, symptoms, and available treatments. Fibroids affect more than half of the female population by the time they have reached the age of 50, so it is important that funding and research on this medical condition continue.

Are Fibroids Genetic?

While fibroids are still not officially considered a hereditary condition, experts do agree that a family history of fibroids should warrant periodic fibroid screenings for all related females.

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous tumors also called leiomyomas that grow in and on a woman’s uterus. They can be very small in size or as large as a pumpkin, and there can be only one fibroid present or many. Some women have no symptoms that result from their fibroids, while others suffer chronic pain symptoms that affect their quality of life. There is no known cause for leiomyomas and, therefore, no definitive means to prevent them.

The most sobering statistic regarding fibroids is that they are the most common cause of hysterectomy in the United States. The research and studies that have been conducted to date have given us an outline of factors that can contribute to the presence of fibroids and statistical analysis has provided data that paints part of the picture. However, more research is critically needed.

Genetics and Uterine Fibroids

Recently a major study was conducted internationally that discovered a genetic link between the two most troublesome female reproductive diseases: endometriosis and uterine tumors. It was previously known that these two diseases had some type of link but this study proved that hypothesis through genetic analysis.

The study confirmed 21 genomic regions, eight being new genomic regions, associated with uterine fibroids with four linked to endometriosis. Genomic regions refer to the complete set of genetic instructions contained within an organism. These genetic instructions are made up of DNA which holds each organism’s chemical code that pilots the growth and development of that entity.

One of the most interesting discoveries is related to the four genomic regions that were discovered that linked endometriosis and uterine fibroids. These four were all related to DNA (WNT4 genes) that are responsible for the female reproductive organs and their formation during the fetal period.

Could this possibly indicate some hereditary connection between mother and baby? To date, experts have not confirmed a hereditary link, but the discovery of more genomic regions related to uterine fibroids certainly suggests that a link will eventually be found. Given this suspicion, if your grandmother and mother had fibromas then you should keep a watchful eye as you may develop them as well.

New DNA Marker Discovered for Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

In addition to confirming the link between fibroids and endometriosis, this study revealed additional unique DNA attributes related to uterine fibroids. Three of the unique DNA markers were attributed to heavy menstrual bleeding (HMB) which is a common symptom caused by fibroids and often a cause of hysterectomy.

The discovery of these new DNA markers related to HMB is significant because to date, fibroid treatment has been limited to only treating fibroid symptoms. This discovery and study pave the way for more research and possible medication development to prevent fibroids or fibroid symptoms.

Uterine Fibroids Risk Factors
Uterine fibroids risk factors

Can I Inherit Fibroids?

If you have a family history of fibroids this does not mean that you will experience them in your lifetime. It does mean that you may have a higher probability and should keep that in mind in the event that you begin to experience symptoms that are related to fibromas. Also, if you have been diagnosed with endometriosis you are twice as likely to develop uterine myomas and should get periodic screenings.

Some other well-known factors that contribute to the presence of fibroids include:

  • Excess estrogen levels;
  • Obesity;
  • Ethnic origin;
  • Eating habits, and
  • Vitamin D deficiency.

Uterine Fibroid Embolization to Treat Fibroids

If you have been diagnosed with uterine fibroids or are suffering from symptoms of fibroids, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center to learn more about uterine fibroid embolization (UFE). If you would like to eliminate the awful symptoms caused by myomas but also retain your uterus and your fertility, learn about this minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure

The 45-minute procedure is performed outpatient at the Atlanta Fibroid Center by Dr. John Lipman and Dr. Mitchell Ermentrout, Interventional Radiologists who have 35+ years of experience in UFE.

The UFE procedure works by blocking the blood vessels that feed the fibroids causing them to wither and die. Many fibroid symptoms occur because of the space the fibroids are taking up, so, when they shrink, these symptoms disappear. UFE can also treat all types and sizes of fibroids, and all of them at the same time. Most patients have only a 5-7 day recovery time, and all of their fibroid symptoms disappear by their third cycle after treatment. To learn more about uterine fibroid embolization and how it can help you, contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center® today!