Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting women in the United States today. Nearly 15,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, with nearly 4,000 women ultimately succumbing to the disease. Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop along the cervix, and begin to grow out of control. Conventional treatments for cervical cancer rely on surgery (full or partial hysterectomy), chemotherapy and radiation treatment. These treatments are fundamentally assaults on the body, and carry unwanted and dangerous side effects. As with all forms of cancer, the best therapy is prevention. By making certain lifestyle changes, and by educating themselves on the effects of diet and environment on their overall health, women can significantly lower their risks for cervical cancer.
The Causes and Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
The most common cause of cervical cancer is HPV, or human papillomavirus. HPV is a virus that is transmitted through sexual contact. It is a common virus, and it affects nearly 20 million Americans. That being said, there are a number of different types of HPV, and not all types of the human papillomavirus cause cancer. Some may cause genital warts, while other types may stay in the body producing no symptoms of disease. The major danger of the cancer causing type of HPV is that it can lay dormant in a woman’s body for years before causing any cancer to develop.
Aside from HPV, cervical cancer is predominantly linked to lifestyle, diet and environmental factors. Genetics appear to play a part as well, and women with a family history of cervical cancer may be at a 15% greater risk for developing the disease later in life.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer are pelvic pain, unusual vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods, unusual vaginal discharges, bladder pain and pain during urination. Loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, and a pervasive feeling of fatigue can indicate advanced cervical cancer.
Prevention of Cervical Cancer
Since it is clear that one of the major causes of cervical cancer is HPV, which can be transmitted through sexual contact, one of the most effective forms of prevention is practicing safe sex or abstinence. This not only significantly lowers the risk for cervical cancer; it limits the chances of contracting any sexually transmitted diseases.
Women who smoke are at a higher risk for cervical cancer, because the toxins found in tobacco can be absorbed by the cervix. Smokers should quit immediately. It not only reduces the risk for cervical cancer, quitting smoking lowers the risk for the majority of cancers.
A healthy diet greatly reduces the risk of cancer in general and cervical cancer in particular. Women should make the transition to a vegan diet, rich in raw and organic fruits and vegetables. Organically grown garlic, and onions are rich in antioxidants that help to protect the body from free radicals that can cause cancer and other diseases. Foods that are rich in selenium, such as tomatoes, Brazil nuts, mushrooms, broccoli, bananas and asparagus, should also be added to the diet. Selenium also inhibits the creation of free radicals in the body, thereby reducing the risk for cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer and the Importance of Exercise
Regular exercise has many health benefits, including protecting the body from cancer. Regular exercise helps to regulate blood pressure and insulin levels, while reducing body fat that can cause hormone levels to spike creating a welcome environment for cancer to develop. A regular routine of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, three to four times a week, can greatly reduce a woman’s risk for cervical cancer. Regular exercise also helps to support a strong immune system, healthy blood oxygen levels, and has been shown to combat anxiety and depression.
Cervical cancer can be a life threatening disease, and while survival rates are excellent for those that catch it early, prevention is still the best medicine. By taking these preventative measures, women can greatly reduce their chances of developing cervical cancer, and can ensure that they enjoy total health for years to come.