Cervical Health Awareness

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, aiming to educate women on reducing the risk of cervical cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “about 13,240 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed” in 2018. Cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women until increased use of the PAP screening test made it possible to find changes in the cervix before cancer developed. Now, “cervical pre-cancers are diagnosed far more often than invasive cervical cancer”.¹

The most common advice on reducing the risk of cervical cancer is centered around a healthy lifestyle, with three major components:

 

1. Screening

Regular screenings can catch pre-cancerous changes early on, which can be “treated before they have a chance to turn into cancer”. The American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer is  “most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44”, recommending that women in that age range have both PAP and HPV tests every five years. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a PAP test every three years and tested for HPV only after an abnormal PAP test result.²

 

2. Healthy Diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of cervical and other cancers. Opt for fruits and vegetables abundant in the following vitamins and nutrients:

Beta-carotene is an “anti-oxidant that becomes vitamin A in the body” and is what gives orange and yellow veggies their vibrant color³. Go for winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Lycopene belongs to the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, so again fruits and veggies with lively pink, orange and yellow hues like watermelon, pink grapefruit and fresh tomatoes.

Folate is a B vitamin that promotes reproductive health and is plentiful in lentils, oranges and romaine lettuce4 (check out our Gerson Veggie Lentil Loaf recipe!)

Flavonoids “have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective activities […]”5. Staples Gerson foods such as apples, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, onions and garlic are abundant in flavonoids.

 

3. Exercise

Physical activity promotes a better quality of life by keeping the body moving, thus strengthening muscles, joints and bones; increasing oxygen and blood flow; and improving mental health.

 

All month long we’ll have recipes featuring cancer-fighting foods from this article!
Tomorrow: Butternut Squash with Tomatoes, Leeks and Onions

 


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Written by: Nicole Ferrer-Clement


References
  1. American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.html
  2. American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/what-you-need-to-know-about-testing-for-cervical-cancer.html
  3. St. Joseph Health: https://www.stjhs.org/healthcalling/2017/march/5-foods-for-a-healthy-cervix/
  4. Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/cervical-cancer/prevention.aspx
  5. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/flavonoids

 

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