Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.1 In 2012 alone, nearly 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed.1 Research shows women with uterine fibroids, a type of noncancerous tumor that develops in the wall of the uterus, may be at a greater risk of breast cancer. But a study published earlier this year in Oncotarget found that although the risk of breast cancer was higher among women with fibroids, these women were less likely to die from the disease.2
Researchers at China Medical University Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan, used the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan to examine how frequent breast cancer occurred among Asian patients and how often they died from the disease.2 Over a span of 11 years, 22,000 women with newly diagnosed fibroids were compared to 85,000 women without fibroids. Both groups were followed up for an average of approximately three and a half years.
In comparison to women without fibroids, data showed the incidence of breast cancer was 35% higher among women with fibroids.2 By the end of the study, researchers observed that women with fibroids, although at a higher risk of breast cancer, were significantly less likely to die from the disease versus women who were fibroid-free.
Looking at both groups, researchers also examined risk factors for breast cancer.2 For example, women with fibroids who were 45 years of age and older and those who didn’t use estrogen and progesterone medications were at an increased risk of breast cancer when compared to women without fibroids. Furthermore, researchers found that having other diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, noncancerous breast tumors, and obesity put women with fibroids at a higher breast cancer risk.
In addition to breast cancer, uterine fibroids have been linked to other diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and obesity. And even though fibroid growths are not cancerous tumors, they still can be the cause of heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and urinary symptoms.
As the research for fibroids and breast cancer continues, this study furthers our understanding of how these diseases may be connected.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Alicia Armeli is a Freelance Writer and Editor, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach. She has master’s degrees in English Education and Nutrition. Through her writing, she empowers readers to live optimally by building awareness surrounding issues that impact health and wellbeing. In addition to writing, she enjoys singing, traveling abroad, and volunteering in her community. She is a paid consultant of Merit Medical.
1. World Cancer Research Fund International. (n.d.) Breast cancer statistics. Retrieved from http://www.wcrf.org/int/cancer-facts-figures/data-specific-cancers/breast-cancer-statistics
2. Shen, T. C., Hsia, T. C., Hsiao, C. L., et al. (2017). Patients with uterine leiomyoma exhibit a high incidence but low mortaility rate for breast cancer. Oncotarget, May 16; 8(20): 33014-33023.