Researchers have identified genetic differences that may explain why blackwomen are 4 times more likely than other women to develop uterine fibroidtumors. The investigators hope that this information may lead to new nonsurgicaltreatments for these benign tumors. The results of the study appear in theFebruary 2006 issue of the Journal of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation.
The study included 328 women; 186 had fibroid tumors, and 142 did not.The researchers examined the frequency of a genetic alteration in the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene in the women. The COMT gene playsa key role in the metabolism of estrogen, and women with high-activityCOMT are more likely to have fibroid tumors. The researchers found that47% of black women had high-activity COMT, compared with 30% ofHispanic women and 19% of white women.
The researchers also found that COMT-inhibiting drugs decreased the activityof certain estrogen-dependent genes. This action caused the fibroid cells to stopgrowing and eventually die. They hope that this research can lead to the developmentof a drug treatment for fibroid tumors.