By Nmami Agarwal
January is the month of Cervical Cancer Awareness, a type of cancer that has become prevalent both worldwide and in India. The good part is that cervical cancer is totally preventable. We bring you the guide to help you fight off this deadly monster, once and forever, through simple lifestyle modifications. Get ready to ward off any potential signs of cervical cancer with us.
What is Cervical Cancer?
Cervical cancer is the cancer of the cervix (opening of the uterus, situated at its lower region). This term can be easily confused with the cervical area of neck (seven vertebral bones), but both are the separate entities.
Cervical cancer is now recognized as the most common cancer of women in India along with Breast cancer. It is also the fourth most common cancer amongst women worldwide. About twenty six per cent of female cancer in India is cervical cancer, with the highest risk factor between the age groups of fifteen to thirty years.
Cervical cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which has more than hundreds of strains, out of which thirteen strains are known to cause cervical cancer.
Awareness is the Key
As much as a common variant cervical cancer is, it is easily preventable through simplistic methods.
- Vaccination: Effective vaccines have been developed to immunize against HPV causing cervical cancer. The recommended age to get vaccinated is between nine to twenty six years of age.
- Safe Coitus: Practice safe sex, especially keeping a check on after-sex hygiene. It is the most important factor because unsafe sex can lead to STD’s, which can be a precursor to cervical cancer. Apparently, one in four sexually active women has some form of STD.
- Regular Screening: Only twenty five per cent of Urban Indian women and twenty per cent of rural Indian women get regularly screened for cervical cancer when the count should be hundred per cent. All you need to do is undergo a non-invasive test called “Pap Smear Test”, ideally done by a Gynaecologist.
WHO recommends Pap smear screening to be done every three years for women between the age of twenty one to twenty nine years, and once every five years for the women in the age group of thirty to sixty five years.
- Risk factors – Smoking, unhealthy diet, multiple sex partners and having more than three children can put you in the risk zone for developing cervical cancer.
The Diet’s Role
A healthy diet builds the foundation of an immune body that is resistant to most of the Lifestyle Diseases, including cancer. For that simply follow these dietary tips!
- Salmon- Apart from being rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, salmons contain a carotenoid called “astaxanthin” that is effective in destroying free radicals and boosting the immunity.
- Plant-based nutrient-rich foods: Include foods like oranges, cantaloupes, mushrooms, bell peppers, mushrooms, carrots, winter squash and zucchini in your diet to make your body resistant to cervical cancer or its risk factors.
- Folate-Rich foods: Folate deficiency has been linked to preventing cancer. Hence, incorporating rich sources of folate in diet such as avocados, chickpeas, lentils, and strawberries is one the best tips to follow.
- Say no to Sugar: There’s an indirect link between risk of cervical cancer and excess sugar consumption. This phenomenon is called Warburg effect where cancer cells tend to uptake more glucose to produce energy by rapidly breaking down sugar.
- Kitchen Super-fighters: A dash of few herbs and spices can be you best super-fighters to prevent cancer outcome. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin which is a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent several forms of cancer. The zing of pepper is also known to stimulate the immune system. Garlic contains organosulfur that is proven to be anti-carcinogenic. A powerful antioxidant called capsaicin is found in cayenne pepper and other hot peppers, and it is known to cause apoptosis of cancer cells without harming the normal cells.
- Papaya: Termed as “fruit of angels” contains beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin, which help in lowering cancer risk.
- Asparagus: Contains glutathione, which is termed as the master antioxidant that can effectively destroy potential carcinogens within the body.
Over to you
The fight against cancer should be declared by one and all whether you fall in the risk zone or not, because you may never know when the symptoms might just creep in, silently. Apart from awareness, a healthy diet too is important. Follow the combination of safety measures, regular screening, physical activity, and optimal nutrition intake to build an unbreakable anti-cancer aura around you that protects you for lifetime.