Cervical cancer is a largely preventable disease. It's also curable if detected early enough and treated well.
However, it's still the fourth most common cancer among women globally. In 2018, an estimated 5780,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and approximately 311,000 women died from the disease.
On Nov 17, 2020, WHO launched a global initiative to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer. With 3 key steps outlined, it's believed that new cervical cancer cases could be reduced by more than 40% and that a reduction of 5 million related deaths could be achieved by 2050.
The three key steps
The majority of cervical cancer is caused by infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
A nutritious diet
Experts believe that a diet high in antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids, and folate - found in fruits and vegetables - can help the body fight infection and prevent this specific infection from turning cells of the cervix into cancerous lesions.
For cancer prevention as well as overall health and wellness, many experts recommend a diet that consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains.
These foods contain a host of benefits and can be easily incorporated into daily meals:
- Flavonoids – believed to provide protection against cancer and can be found in kale, parsley, dark chocolate, black beans, red cabbage, cranberries, garlic, lettuce, onions, soy and spinach.
- Folate – a water-soluble B vitamin thought to reduce the risk of cervical cancer in women who have HPV. Foods high in folate include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, beets, wheat germ, bananas and citrus fruits.
- Carotenoids – valuable sources of vitamin A found in most fruits, vegetables and beans, and particularly in orange foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash.
- Antioxidants - these molecules fight free radicals and are found in kale, wheatgrass, strawberries, blueberries, goji berries and artichokes.
While a healthy diet is an important part of an overall cancer prevention plan, it should not be the only component.
Because cervical cancer is often linked to lifestyle factors, other precautionary measures should also be taken, such as not smoking, getting vaccinated against HPV, being monogamous and having cervical cancer screening tests (Pap smears) performed regularly at the intervals recommended by a physician.
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