The cervix is an area of the woman’s body that connects the uterus to the external female genital tract. Cervical cancer refers to the cancer of this area. One of the most common causes for the spread of this malignant tumor is HPV – Human Papillomavirus. It can be transmitted via sexual contact. Today, it has been scientifically proven that preventive measures such as contraceptives cannot stop HPV from entering a woman’s body.
However, there is a common understanding that approximately one-third of all cancers can be prevented if the individual makes appropriate lifestyle changes. In addition, you should go for medical tests (e.g. cancer screening exams) even if you don’t have any symptoms but are at risk. During these tests, doctors can help detect cancer at its earliest stage. This way, the chances for successful treatment are significantly higher.
Stick to a Healthy Diet
Research has shown that individuals, who are suffering from obesity, have a higher chance of contracting some forms of cancer. This applies especially to individuals who have a plump waist. They have a higher risk than people with fat hips or thighs.
That’s why creating and sticking to a balanced diet is of utmost importance. You need to eat carefully, be physically active, and aim to reach the optimum number of pounds. As many experts like to say, “Inch by inch, life is a cinch.” There isn’t a perfect for this, so you should take one step at a time, to change your daily activity and eating habits.
There is currently no adequate and specific evidence to prove that one’s diet can prevent cervical cancer. However, a human’s nutritional status is an important cofactor that affects both HPV progression and persistence of HPV infections and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia.
So, how should you maintain a well-balanced diet, to reduce the risk of cervical cancer? Here are some easy and quick suggestions that you can try out:
Do you drink wine or beer? It is important that you keep your alcohol consumption low. It goes without saying that you should consume less processed foods or none at all. When it comes to poultry, opt for lean meat instead of red meats. It is also a good idea to drink low-fat dairy products. Next, you have to start eating plenty of high-fiber foods such as cereals and whole-grain breads. In addition, add a variety of greens and fruits into your diet. Your options include legumes (such as beans and peas), deep-yellow vegetables, dark-green vegetables, and citrus fruits.
A group of researchers believe that certain types of supplements are beneficial in the prevention of cancer. If you are looking to consume supplements in an effort to prevent cancer, it is imperative that you consult your primary care physician on the types of supplements that are safe. However, the simple act of eating healthy foods is still one of the best ways to get the necessary minerals and vitamins your body needs to function properly and fight off unwanted diseases.
Say No to Smoking
According to the Surgeon General of the United States, smoking tobacco is strongly associated with cervical cancer. Although this form of cancer is caused mainly by HPV. Smoking cigarettes has long been considered a cofactor. This means that certain types of cancer-causing chemicals (related to smoking) and HPV may work together to increase an individual’s likelihood of developing cancer.
The more an individual smokes, the more his or her risk goes up. That’s not all. There is also a major association with secondhand smoke. If an individual is exposed to three or four hours of passive smoke per day, their risk of cervical cancer increases as well.
It is imperative that you consider kicking the butt without delay. Kicking the habit will help lower the chances of getting many types of cancer, i.e. pertaining to the cervix, throat, esophagus, mouth, pancreas, kidneys, bladder, and lungs. Yes, quitting in itself is hard, but with the right medicines, support, and information, it is possible to quit smoking for good!
Stay Active, Exercise More
Aside from maintaining a healthy diet, it is important that you lead an active lifestyle that involves exercising regularly. Regular exercise can help you to achieve and maintain a healthy weight (while burning the excess fat!). Indirectly and directly, exercise helps to keep you away from cancer.
Even if you only exercise at least 30 minutes per week, you still possess the potential to significantly reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. Now, you have to double your efforts and get enough sleep. The combination of having adequate sleep and being physically active may work together to lower a woman’s cancer risk.
Remember, you do not need to overwork yourself. Taking small steps work fine, e.g. taking the stairs instead of elevators, or walking to the bus stand that is a few blocks away.
Take Annual Pap Smears
Taking pap smears on annual basis should be part of any woman’s lifestyle. These tests are an effective way to detect cervical cancer in the early stages. Pap smears are also known as the papanicolau test, smear test, or cervical smear. They are designed to finds abnormal cells in and around the patient’s cervix.
If you are already 21 years and older, you should not delay having a Pap Smear done. As mentioned, it should be part of your healthcare routine. Depending on your health history and age, you can follow these guidelines:
- Take a pap test every two years if you have just hit 21 years of age.
- If you are 30 years and older, you can consult your doctor and space out pap tests to happen every three years.
Avoid Promiscuity and Don’t be Heavily Dependent on Oral Contraceptives
Research has shown that women, who choose to have multiple sexual partners, increase their risk for cervical cancer. These individuals also increase their risk of developing HPV, a major cause for cervical cancer. Scientific evidence has also established that taking oral contraceptives for an extended period of time increases a woman’s risk of cervical cancer. However, the risk of cervical cancer goes down after the woman stops taking oral contraceptives.
What Else Can You Do?
Cancer is like most other diseases. It is caused by an array of choices that we make throughout our lives. Leading a sedentary lifestyle, being exposed to radiation, consuming junk food, drinking alcoholic drinks, smoking, etc. play a part in causing cancer. Women are advised to follow the above-mentioned lifestyle changes to protect themselves, friends, and loved ones from cervical cancer. In addition, you can consider:
- Encouraging your daughters and sons to get vaccinated against HPV
- Ask if it is time to get screened at every health care visit
- Contact your local health department for more information about cervical cancer screening
- Encourage other female friends and acquaintances to be screened for cervical cancer
- Always follow up on any abnormal results for screenings and tests without delay