The Study of Environment, Lifestyle, and Fibroids (SELF), is the first truly prospective epidemiologic study of fibroids.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is sponsoring this study. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) is leading the project with the support of Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. SELF is designed to investigate several potential risk factors for the development of uterine fibroids, specifically in African American women, the group in the United States most affected by this often debilitating condition.
Between 2010 and 2012, 1,693 participants enrolled in SELF. Recruitment was based out of the Detroit, Michigan area and limited to African American/Black women between the ages of 23-34 who had never been diagnosed with fibroids. Participants were interviewed and completed multiple questionnaires. All participants also attended clinic visits where ultrasound examinations were conducted to identify and measure any fibroids present and to collect biospecimen samples.
Since the initial clinical visit, SELF participants have completed three additional rounds of follow up visits conducted at approximately 20-month intervals. Ninety percent of participants returned for the third follow-up. An additional follow-up, funded through an NIH grant to Boston University and Henry Ford, is in progress. During the follow up process participants are screened for fibroids via ultrasound, additional biospecimens are collected, and new questionnaires are administered.
Throughout the lifetime of the study, we have collected information regarding a variety of topics including: early life experiences, medical history, menstrual and pregnancy history, residential history, sleep, stress, experiences of racism, environmental contaminants, African ancestry, and more. The dedication of the SELF participants has made this unique study successful, creating a growing body of knowledge about how fibroids grow and the factors that could increase or decrease fibroid development.