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Home Cervical Cancer Cervical Cancer Cervical Cancer and Diet

Cervical Cancer and Diet

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People’s risk for HPV and anogenital cancers can, to some extent, be lowered by healthy lifestyle choices. We now know that consistent condom use decreases risk for HPV infection. Cigarette smoking is a proven risk factor for cervical cancer, and smoking also increases the risk for HPV infection and persistence—giving us all yet another reason to abstain from tobacco use.

Does what we eat also affect risk for cervical cancer and HPV?  For years, women have asked ASHA if there are certain foods they should eat to reduce the risk of cervical cancer. We typically respond that while there aren’t specific dietary guidelines for cervical cancer prevention, eating a low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables strengthens the immune system and is associated with a reduced risk for cancer, in general. 

A recent study seems to back up that advice. Chaitali Ghosh, Ph.D., and a team of researchers from the State University of New York College at Buffalo examined the relationship between diet and cervical cancer risk.

The investigators used questionnaires to collect information about diet and medical backgrounds from female patients at Buffalo hospital. Responses from 239 women with cervical cancer were compared with those from 979 hospital patients with no cervical disease.

Diets rich in fiber, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, lutein, folate, and high total fruit and vegetable consumption were associated with a 40-60% reduction in risk, leading the researchers concluded that plant-based diets have promise in reducing cervical cancers. More research is needed to fully understand the diet-cervical cancer connection, but eating healthy has many proven benefits.

The American Cancer Society offers an FAQ about cancer and diet, including information on dietary fat and fiber, antioxidants, and folate.

C. Ghosh et al. Dietary Intakes of Selected Nutrients and Food Groups and Risk of Cervical Cancer. Nutrition and Cancer. 2008; 60:331-41.