Cervical cancer is most prevalent cancers among women across the globe.
Estimates suggest that more than 80% of the sexually active women acquire genital HPV by 50 years of age. Cervical cancer or cervix cancer is largely caused by human papillomavirus infection (HPV infection) and can be successfully treated only when found early.
According to the study ‘Cervical cancer in India and HPV vaccination’ published Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology, almost 75% of all sexually active adults are likely to be infected with at least one HPV type but vast majority of the infections resolve spontaneously and only a minority (<1%) of the HPV infections progress to cancer.
The lower part of the uterus which opens into the vagina is known as cervix. It actually connects uterus and vagina. When there is an abnormal and uncontrolled growth of the cells on the cervix, it is known as a cervical cancer. Excessive vaginal discharge, pain during intercourse, abnormal bleeding from vagina that cannot be related to menstrual periods or sex, and pain in the lower abdomen or pelvis, are the symptoms of cervix cancer. Sexual activity and age are two most predominant factors for HPV transmission.
In this article, we look at some of the preventable measures which you can take to avoid cervical cancer:
1. Avoid getting in contact with HPV
HPV i.e. the human papillomavirus is considered to be the main cause of cervical cancer. Hence, avoiding contact with HPV is an ideal way to prevent this disease. The virus mainly attacks during sexual intercourse. All that the virus requires is skin-to-skin touch with an area of the body contaminated with HPV.
2. Say a big ‘no’ to smoking
Cigarette smoking can prove dangerous as the chemicals in tobacco smoke tend to wane the body’s immune system allowing HPV infection to last longer in those who smoke compared with non-smokers. Besides that, smoking can also cause numerous other diseases that are also dangerous to health.
3. Include broccoli and cauliflower in your diet
Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain anti-cancer agents that facilitate cells to fight against HPV destruction and limiting the spread of cervix cancer.
4. Go for regular check up especially Pap smear test
Stay in touch with your doctor who may diagnose your vulnerability to cervix cancer and accordingly advise you to undergo Pap smear test once a year or every three years. It is also beneficial to discuss with your doctor as what all preventive measure can be taken to reduce your risk to cervix cancer.
5. HPV Vaccination
Cervical cancer is being ranked as the most frequent cancer among Indian women, especially those above 35 years of age. Prevention of cervical cancer by HPV vaccination is emerging as the most effective method. Seek advice from your doctor in order to get detailed knowledge about the HPV vaccine.
6. Gain more information
Collect more information on cervical cancer. You can go through the Internet, various newspapers, journals, television or forums. Gaining more and more knowledge about the disease will help you understand the ways to prevent and screen it effectively. This way you can also spread the necessary information about the cancer to your relatives or friends.
7. Healthy food and work out
Healthy diet combined with a regular workout can make a valuable difference to your risk level. Include foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. The antioxidants and phytochemicals present in them can help to prevent the occurrence and spread of cervical cancer. Consume foods that are rich in Vitamin C like guava, amla and kiwi since it is a good source of antioxidants. Ask your doctor if you can also take any food supplements.
8. Avoid having unprotected sex and maintaining multiple sexual relationships both which increase the risk of cervical cancer.
We advice all you women out there to Stay aware and Stay fit. That’s the only way to avoid falling prey to cervix cancer.