The most common advice on reducing the risk of cervical cancer is centered around a healthy lifestyle, with three major components:
Regular screenings can catch pre-cancerous changes early on, which can be “treated before they have a chance to turn into cancer”. The American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer is “most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44”, recommending that women in that age range have both PAP and HPV tests every five years. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a PAP test every three years and tested for HPV only after an abnormal PAP test result. Both tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic.
- The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
- The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.
2. Healthy Diet
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of cervical and other cancers. Opt for fruits and vegetables abundant in the following vitamins and nutrients:
Beta-carotene is an “anti-oxidant that becomes vitamin A in the body” and is what gives orange and yellow veggies their vibrant color. Go for winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Lycopene belongs to the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, so again fruits and veggies with lively pink, orange and yellow hues like watermelon, pink grapefruit and fresh tomatoes.
Folate is a B vitamin that promotes reproductive health and is plentiful in lentils, oranges and romaine lettuce.
Flavonoids “have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective activities. Foods such as apples, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, onions and garlic are abundant in flavonoids.
Physical activity promotes a better quality of life by keeping the body moving, thus strengthening muscles, joints and bones; increasing oxygen and blood flow; and improving mental health. In terms of cancer prevention, the recommended general physical activity guidelines are at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.
- American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.
- Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/cervical-cancer/prevention.aspx
- Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: Here’s Why Exercise Is Crucial in Preventing, Treating Cancer
- The Gerson Institute https://gerson.org/gerpress/