Cervical cancer (cancer of the female cervix) is the second most common type of cancer in women, behind only breast cancer. Its most common cause is contraction of high-risk forms of the human papilloma virus – more commonly known as HPV.
Most women will contract some form of HPV at least once in their lives. The body’s immune system typically takes care of the virus before it evolves any further. However, sometimes the infection does not go away. If the virus stays active in the body for a significant period of time the risk of cervical cancer increases.
How to Protect Yourself from HPV
Most doctors recommend that women protect their bodies from HPV in these three ways:
- Get screened with a Pap test periodically.
- Get an HPV test periodically (age 30 or older).
- Get the HPV vaccine (ages 9-26).
Lifestyle Changes That Support HPV/Cervical Cancer Prevention
The best thing you can do to protect yourself from cervical cancer is to get regular screenings like those listed above. However, there are many lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk altogether. One of which involves your diet.
Low levels of folic acid (a type of vitamin B) in the body can increase your likelihood of developing HPV; so, it is very important to eat a nourishing, vitamin-rich diet. Folic acid is crucial to the development of healthy DNA and can protect against precancerous changes in the cervix. In fact, dosages of 5 to 10 milligrams of folic acid daily can actually reverse mildly abnormal Pap smears.
Folic acid is most commonly found in dark, leafy greens like spinach and asparagus, citrus fruits, lentils and beans. Most researchers recommend developing a diet that is rich in B vitamins: particularly folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron and vitamin B12.
Here are some foods that do this best!
Cruciferous vegetables like:
Antioxidant-rich fruits and teas like:
- Green tea
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Chia Seeds
Here are some foods that you should avoid.
Animal products that cause inflammation:
- Red meat
- Dairy products
Refined sugars and highly-processed carbohydrates.
- Processed grains
- Pre-made boxed foods
- Bleached flour
Many of these cancer-preventing nutrients found in the list of foods above can also be found in the form of dietary supplements. Do not substitute real foods for supplements as too much of a good thing may become toxic in your body.