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When researching national statistics of women diagnosed with major health disorders, societal stressors, and oftentimes institutionalized medical negligence, seem to exacerbate the rates at which Black women fare in comparison to their counterparts. A prominent example is the misguidance of Black women when we examine cases of uterine fibroids, standing as the leading cause of hysterectomy across the United States.
Uterine fibroids appear as benign tumors formed by clumps of cells replicating abnormally in various parts of the uterus lining, creating a host of severe medical issues including debilitating pelvic pains, heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, and painful intercourse, to name a few. A 2021 study of “Black and White [women] hysterectomy incidence among reproductive-aged women” published in Health Services Research (HSR), emphasizes the lack of biological difference between Black women and their counterparts, but rather the importance of acknowledging how socioeconomic, and “implicit or explicit” biases within the medical system heavily contribute to Black women’s outcomes when facing the disease.
“Socioeconomic context is important to understand, particularly for Black-White disparities in hysterectomy. Efforts should be made to understand the causes of higher rates of hysterectomy among Blacks than Whites, especially in counties in the highest economic tier,” the research team concluded.
But while the root causes of uterine fibroid issues still linger within medical research, Black women have three times greater risk of developing uterine fibroids compared to their counterparts. These statistics incite questions regarding the connection between lifestyle conditions of Black American women, and the often underlying catalyst to many medical diseases – the physical state of stress.
Stress, medically defined as a physical, emotional, or mental factor causing bodily or mental tension, creates inflammation within our bodies. When our bodies experience a high consistency of tension, this triggers an irregular replication of the body’s cells, similar to the formation of cancer, but also hypertension, anxiety, depression, heart disease, and much more.
Naturopathic practitioners share the importance of home, and lifestyle structure to help increase the chances of healing, and ultimately dissolving uterine fibroids in Black American women. Dr. Daemon Jones, also known as Dr. Dae, N.D. of Healthy Daes Naturopathic Medical Center, in D.C., shares some of her most profound discoveries while working with women patients who have come across her practice in search of solutions outside of invasive surgery.
“Certainly I’ve worked with women [and have] been able to help them stop the growth of their fibroids, and lifestyle habits created a huge role in that. So when I work with women, we always take this approach of looking at how lifestyle impacts their particular health issues. For example, many women do not know how to eat healthy. A lot of people don’t understand that even if you eat a piece of broccoli, it ultimately breaks down into sugar. I agree that levels of glucose running around the bloodstream feed the cells of fibroids [as] it does the cells of cancer,” said Dr. Dae. “Food is a huge component of how women grow fibroids in their body, and I think they are not aware of it. A lot of times women will say [they are] so busy taking care of someone else that [they] don’t have time to take care of themselves, and they eat other things that are not healthy and blame it on their lifestyle. Truth of the matter is, not just sugar but junk foods and foods that don’t have a lot of nutrients in them also fuel the growth of fibroids.”
The superwoman trope heavily pinned to Black women dangerously interferes with healthy methods of stress management, as many succumb to their conditions, or dull down the emotional toll of what lies on their plate, oftentimes causing hormonal imbalances. Dr. Dae highlights the necessity of self-care in the preventative, and maintenance measures of owning our health.
“A lot of Black women are under the belief that self-care is a luxury. Self-care is making sure you’re eating every day, making sure you are getting enough sleep, and spending time with your girlfriends laughing or joking. Self-care is hugging your family members, your loved ones, or your spouse. Self-care is basic fundamentals that we as a people in the history of America did not always have the option to do,” said Dr. Dae. “Massages, vacations – I think we have to change the narrative on what self-care means particularly in communities of color because we are used to shouldering all the burdens of all of the people in our family, and we have to change that [in order] to stay alive and thrive.”