Risk factors

While there is no clear consensus and limited literature regarding predisposing risk factors for development of uterine fibroids, risk of uterine fibroids has been associated with such factors as age, ethnicity, family history, reproductive factors, lifestyle and medical conditions, and use of exogenous sex steroids10.

Women are most likely to be diagnosed with fibroids during their forties; however, it is not clear whether this is due to an increased formation or increased fibroid growth secondary to hormonal changes during this time10.

Fibroids are more common in Black women than Caucasian women, and in fact are estimated to be 2-3 times higher in women of African descent compared to European descent, however the incidence reported may be due to health access, method of diagnosis or verification of self-reported diagnosis20,21.

Although no specific gene has been identified as the cause of non-syndromic fibroids, there is convincing evidence of the role of heredity as a risk factor for uterine fibroids 22. Furthermore, it appears that fibroids with familial prevalence behave differently from those that occur sporadically in families, lending weight to the argument that fibroids are not a uniform pathological condition13.

Several studies have shown that reproductive factors including age at menarche, parity, pregnancy, interval since last term pregnancy and levels of endogenous hormones are associated with uterine fibroids13, 23-30.

Lifestyle and medical conditions, including non-smoker status, a diet rich in red meat and obesity have all been linked with an elevated risk of uterine fibroids 10, 13, 23, 31-36.