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Environ Health Perspect. 2003 Jun; 111(8): 1037–1054.
PMCID: PMC1241553
Research Article

Etiology and pathogenesis of uterine leiomyomas: a review.


Uterine leiomyomas, or fibroids, represent a major public health problem. It is believed that these tumors develop in the majority of American women and become symptomatic in one-third of these women. They are the most frequent indication for hysterectomy in the United States. Although the initiator or initiators of fibroids are unknown, several predisposing factors have been identified, including age (late reproductive years), African-American ethnicity, nulliparity, and obesity. Nonrandom cytogenetic abnormalities have been found in about 40% of tumors examined. Estrogen and progesterone are recognized as promoters of tumor growth, and the potential role of environmental estrogens has only recently been explored. Growth factors with mitogenic activity, such as transforming growth factor- (subscript)3(/subscript), basic fibroblast growth factor, epidermal growth factor, and insulin-like growth factor-I, are elevated in fibroids and may be the effectors of estrogen and progesterone promotion. These data offer clues to the etiology and pathogenesis of this common condition, which we have analyzed and summarized in this review.

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Selected References

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