Cervical cancer is a type of cancer the begins on the cervix, and is often associated with contraction of the human papillomavirus (HPV). There are often no symptoms and no pain, which is why most doctors encourage an annual screening such as a Pap test. Fortunately, early detection proves there is a high rate of success in healing from this type of cancer.
You can also lower your risk by making certain lifestyle changes to prevent cervical cancer or contracting HPV. Since most cancers are associated with environment and lifestyle, the choices you make every day can help you remain healthy and cancer free. The following are five natural and alternative ways to avoid the devastation of a cancer diagnosis.
Maintain a healthy weight. The risk of contracting cervical cancer doubles for those who are overweight. Higher levels of adipose tissue (body fat) are linked to higher estrogen levels, which can more easily lead to the development of cancer. If you are overweight, recruit the help of a licensed nutritionist who can help you reduce your weight, thereby reducing your risk for many types of cancers, including cervical.
A healthy diet is best for natural cancer prevention success. Eating right can make maintaining a healthy weight much easier, but finding the right diet may be difficult as each person has their own version of healthy. According to the American Cancer Society guidelines, strive to eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day along with whole grains in place of processed and refined grains. Limit red meat consumption and instead opt for healthier protein sources like chicken or turkey breast, beans and fish.
Choose organic foods when you have a choice. This includes fruits, vegetables, beans and foods made with grains. While not all pesticides are known to cause cancer, some contain known carcinogens like arsenic, lindane and ethylene oxide. (1) Sometimes pesticides can permeate the food, so washing it off is not an option. Avoiding foods with pesticides when you can will reduce your exposure to them, helping to reduce your risk to certain cancers, as well.
Exercise at least 150 minutes each week. Get out and move to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. At least one study from the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in New York showed a direct correlation with inactivity and higher risk of cervical cancer. (2) And widespread studies show that regular exercise reduces the risk of many other types of cancer, too, including cervical, lung and breast cancer. (3)
Since obesity greatly raises the risk of cancer, exercise fits in with a lifestyle that helps reduce and maintain weight. Adding even mild exercise to get your blood circulating and your lymphatic system moving helps keep toxins flowing out while carrying life-giving oxygen to all areas of your body. The minimum of 150 minutes each week can easily be divided into 30-minute exercise sessions, five days a week. If you are in shape or highly energetic, you can strive for 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Exercise can include activities such as gardening, walking the dog or a swim in the pool, or a combination of activities. Walking at a quick pace for at least 30 minutes can get your heart rate up at a more consistent level, making the impact of exercise more beneficial. Other ideas include jumping on a home rebounder or trampoline, using an exercise bike, or work out at home with the help of an online program. Incorporating a number of different exercises each week can help keep your routine fun and interesting.
Avoid alcohol or at least limit your drinking. Enjoying a few cocktails to unwind after a particularly stressful day may seem fun, but it can increase your risk for contracting cervical cancer. On the other hand, avoiding alcohol is a natural cancer prevention tactic; here’s why.
Alcohol consumption raises estrogen levels, which in turn can increase your risk for certain types of cervical cancers. Hormones are a delicate balance of many different types of chemical messengers and they normally remain in balance, or homeostasis. But alcohol not only impairs cognitive skills and coordination, it can impair the glands that are responsible for producing hormones and maintaining homeostasis, as it impairs the functions of the glands. Therefore, less alcohol means less risk.
Alcohol interferes with the absorption of many nutrients, especially if consumed on a regular basis. In fact, heavier drinkers have lower levels of folate, a B-vitamin that helps protect you from HPV and helps repair DNA.
Lastly, as the body breaks down alcohol, bacteria in the gut converts it into a substance called acetaldehyde. As acetaldehyde travels through the blood, it can damage DNA and rearrange chromosomes, which can lead to cancer cells. In many cases, the body is capable of converting acetaldehyde into acetate, which can be more easily eliminated or used as energy. But this natural defense may not work for those who are genetically dispositioned for complications, or if alcohol is consumed on a regular basis. These are all good reasons to replace cocktail hour with a fitness class or yoga to relieve stress, instead.
Safe Sex or abstinence may be an alternate lifestyle choice for adults. This is because the HPV virus, which can lead to cancer, is transmitted sexually. According to a study by researchers from the University of Washington, condom use reduced the risk of contracting HPV by up to 70%, while monogamy and abstinence eliminates the risk altogether.
While these preventions may seem like an alternative to more common cancer prevention approaches such as quitting smoking and regular screenings, they are just as important. Natural cancer prevention lifestyle changes can increase your success of avoiding many types of disease, including cervical cancer. So, resolve to make the choices that will keep you healthy, happy and cancer free.
1 Position statement – Pesticide and cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wiki.cancer.org.au/policy/Position_statement_-_Pesticides_and_cancer
2 Exercise May Reduce the Risk of Cervical Cancer. (2016, May 10). Retrieved from https://www.roswellpark.org/media/news/exercise-may-reduce-risk-cervical-cancer
3 Brown JC, Winters-Stone K, Lee A, Schmitz KH. Cancer, physical activity, and exercise. Compr Physiol. 2012;2(4):2775–2809. doi:10.1002/cphy.c120005