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Uterine Fibroids and Black Women: The Disproportionate Impact and Lack of Representation in Research

Black women are hit hardest by fibroids, diagnosed roughly three times as frequently as white women and with more severe symptoms.

Uterine fibroids are a common health issue that affects many women, but it disproportionately impacts Black women. Studies show that Black women are three times more likely than women of other races to develop uterine fibroids, and they are more likely to experience them earlier in life. This health disparity has serious implications for Black women's quality of life and reproductive health.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that develop in the uterus. They can cause symptoms such as heavy bleeding, pain, and pressure, and they can even impact fertility. While the exact cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, there are several risk factors, including genetics, obesity, and hormonal imbalances.
Unfortunately, despite the high prevalence of uterine fibroids in Black women, they are underrepresented in research studies. Black women only make up 15% of study participants in uterine fibroids’ research studies. This lack of representation can lead to limited understanding of the disease's impact on Black women's health and limited development of effective treatments and interventions.
The underrepresentation of Black women in uterine fibroids’ research is not unique to this condition. Studies have shown that people of color are often underrepresented in clinical research, limiting our understanding of how different populations may be impacted by various health issues. This lack of representation can also lead to disparities in healthcare and inadequate treatment options for those who are disproportionately affected by certain diseases.
It is crucial to address this issue by increasing Black women's representation in uterine fibroids’ research studies. This can be achieved through efforts to increase diversity among study participants, recruitment of more Black women for research studies, and providing education to Black women about the importance of participating in clinical research.
In conclusion, uterine fibroids are a common health issue that disproportionately affects Black women. However, the underrepresentation of Black women in research studies limits our understanding of this condition's impact and effective treatment options. By addressing this issue and increasing Black women's representation in research studies, we can work towards better healthcare outcomes and reduce the health disparities that disproportionately impact Black women.

Black Women and Environmental Justice

Everyone should have the right to live in a healthy and safe environment. Unfortunately, we all encounter dangerous chemicals daily, and low-income communities of color disproportionately face exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals in the environment as well as in their homes. People who live in these communities are also more likely to be exposed to toxic or endocrine-disrupting chemicals that cause cancer and other health problems in the workplace.

Over the next few months, we plan to bring information on a specific category of toxins known as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Many products that are marketed to Black women and girls often contain a lot of EDCs that can be harmful to their reproductive health.

The Endocrine System

How Chemicals Can Disrupt the Body's Natural Balance

The human body is a complex system of interconnected parts, all working together to maintain balance and ensure optimal health. At the center of this system is the endocrine system, a network of hormones that regulate almost every biological process in the body. From hunger and growth to puberty and pregnancy, the endocrine system plays a crucial role in our overall well-being, beginning in utero and continuing throughout our lives.
The endocrine system works by using a series of glands in the body to produce and secrete hormones that create changes at the cellular level. These hormones circulate through the bloodstream and act on cells that have specific receptors that match up with specific hormones, much like a lock and key. When a hormone fits into its receptor, changes occur on the cellular level, which helps regulate many bodily functions.
However, daily exposure to chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system and create chaos in the body's natural balance. Endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) are chemicals that interfere with the proper functioning of the endocrine system. They can block hormone receptors or mimic the structure of certain hormones in the body, fitting themselves into receptors meant for the body's hormones.
For example, EDCs that are recognized by the body as estrogen can affect women's hormone levels, leading to serious health problems. Even very small doses of endocrine disruptors can have major detrimental effects on the body because small changes in hormone levels can result in significant biological changes.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be found in everyday consumer products, such as food packaging, furniture, outerwear, cosmetics, toys, and more. These chemicals are often added to products to make them more durable, flexible, or resistant to heat or stains. However, the long-term effects of these chemicals on human health are still not fully understood.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends taking steps to reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These steps include choosing products made from natural materials, avoiding plastics that contain BPA or phthalates, using fragrance-free or naturally scented products, and eating a healthy diet that includes organic and hormone-free foods.
The endocrine system is a crucial part of the body that regulates many bodily functions. However, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can disrupt this system, leading to serious health problems. By taking steps to reduce exposure to these chemicals, we can protect our health and ensure that our bodies can function optimally.
What Are Some Common Classes of EDCs?
  • Phthalates – Phthalates make plastics softer and more flexible. 
  • Parabens – Parabens act as preservatives.
  • Bisphenols – Bisphenols, such as Bisphenol A (BPA), make plastics tougher and clearer. 
  • PFAS – PFAS help increase resistance to stains, water, oil, and grease. 
  • Triclosan – This chemical is designed to kill dangerous microorganisms. 
  • Flame Retardants – These increase fire resistance.
  • Dioxins – These are manufacturing byproducts.
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