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Can Certain Foods Prevent Cervical Cancer?

By Jessica Bruso

According to a review article published in "Nutrition Journal" in October 2004, between 30 and 40 percent of cancers may be preventable with diet and lifestyle changes. Although evidence is preliminary and no one particular food will prevent cervical cancer, including certain foods may lower your risk somewhat, especially if you also avoid foods and lifestyle activities with the potential to increase your cancer risk.

Potentially Beneficial Foods

Fruits and vegetables may be beneficial for reducing cervical cancer risk, according to a review article published in the "Journal of Postgraduate Medicine" in 2003. The October 2004 "Nutrition Journal" article noted that cruciferous and allium vegetables, such as broccoli, garlic and onions, may be particularly helpful for lowering overall cancer risk. Not all studies agree, however, as a study published in July 2011 in the "International Journal of Cancer" found significant associations only for an increase in fruit intake, not vegetable intake, but notes that larger studies are needed to confirm this effect. Green tea may also be beneficial for lowering cervical cancer risk, according to a study published in the "Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention" in 2012.

Micronutrients and Cervical Cancer

A study published in "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2008 found that people who had diets highest in folate, lutein, alpha carotene, beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and dietary fiber had a 40 to 60 percent reduction in cervical cancer risk compared to people who had diets lowest in these nutrients. A review article published in the "International Journal of Cancer" noted that cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene and folate may also be beneficial for decreasing cervical cancer risk, although larger studies are recommended to verify these results.

Foods to Limit or Avoid

The 2004 "Nutrition Journal" article recommends limiting foods that are high in sugar or made with refined flour, as well as red meat. It also notes that getting too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3 fats may increase cancer risk. Omega-6 fats are found in most vegetable oils, and omega-3 fats come from foods including fatty fish and flaxseed. Because obesity is also a risk factor for some types of cancer, limiting high-fat foods may also be helpful for decreasing cancer risk.

Conflicting Results

Not all studies have shown an effect of diet on cervical cancer. For example, a study published in the "Indian Journal of Medical and Paediatric Oncology" in 2009 found no significant differences, except for vitamin C intake, between the diets of study participants with and without cervical cancer.

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