HAVING a well-balanced diet is a great way to keep your overall health in check.
Whether you’re a fan of the Mediterranean diet or you’re currently on Keto, experts say what you eat could increase your risk of cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is the 14th most common cancer in the UK and symptoms include an increased need to urinate, lower limb swelling and incontinence.
Data shows that there are around 3,200 new cervical cancer cases in the UK every year, which equates to around nine cases every day.
Experts say that having a balanced diet, helps bolster your immune system and that having enough antioxidant nutrients in your diet can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer, as the mitigate the impact of HPV.
You can use your diet to help lower your risk of developing cervical cancer – but that doesn’t mean you have to cut entire food groups out.
Previous studies have shown that the Western-style diet is associated with the development of cervical cancer.
The Western diet typically includes a lot of foods that are highly processed.
Diets high in red meat, high sugar, high fat and pre-packaged foods have all been proven to increase the risk of chronic illness if consumed in excess.
However, studies have found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, beans and fish can lower the risk of both HPV and cervical cancer.
People who also have a diet rich in vitamins C, E and A may also supress the development of cervical cancer and studies say that these diets are specifically beneficial to those who smoke.
Having enough vitamin D in your diet, can also help the prevention of cervical cancer.
A study in 2020 found that vitamin D deficiency has been found to be associated with an increased risk of cancer.
Foods with vitamin D include oily fish, red meat, liver and egg yolks.
THE FIVE EARLY SIGNS OF CERVICAL CANCER YOU NEED TO KNOW
Signs can include:
1. Abnormal bleeding (during or after sex, between periods and also post-menopause)
The most common and earliest sign of cervical cancer tends to be irregular bleeding.
It happens when the cancer cells grow on the tissue below the cervix.
It’s an especially alarming sign in postmenopausal women who no longer have periods. There’s no age limit to developing cervical cancer.
2. Unusual vaginal discharge
Everyone’s discharge is different, so it’s a case of knowing what is normal for you.
If you find that the colour, smell and consistency has changed, then that’s something you really need to have checked out.
When cancer lacks oxygen, it can cause an infection which leads to strange smelling discharge.
3. Discomfort or pain during sex
Pain during sex can be a sign of a number of different issues, but one is cervical cancer.
Because the disease often comes with no symptoms, pain during intercourse is one of the key indicators. It can be a sign that the cancer is spreading to surrounding tissues.
4. Lower back pain
It could be down to you straining something in the gym, or it could be a warning sign that something’s wrong with your reproductive organs.
Persistent pain – just one off twinges – in the lower back, pelvis or appendix can be a symptom of cervical cancer.
5. Unintended weight loss
While effortless weight loss might sound like the answer to many of our prayers, it’s never a good sign if it happens seemingly without cause.
A loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss tend to be signs that the body isn’t working properly – it’s trying to conserve energy. If you notice that you’re not eating as you normally do, go to your GP.
As the disease progresses, it can also result in:
- increased need to pee
- blood in pee
- bleeding from the bottom
- lower limb swelling
The NHS says that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter.
But if you’re struggling on as to how you can modify your diet to lower your risk of cervical cancer there are a range of foods you can introduce that will help.
A study conducted on 300,000 women found that eating more fruit and veggies lowered your risk of cervical cancer.
The NHS recommends you eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, whether that’s with meals or as snacks.
The 2010 study looked at women from across Europe to determine the results.
In order to reduce your risk, you should try and include an additional 100g of fruit or vegetables to your diet each day, they stated.
You should aim to include more of the following foods:
- fruit and veg
- nuts and seeds
- complex carbs such as cous cous and wholegrain pasta
- herbs and spices
While these are the foods you should aim to include in your diet, as stated above, some diets, such as the Western diet which is full of processed foods, will up your risk of cervical cancer.
You should try and limit or avoid the foods below:
- foods high in salt
- processed meats
- foods high in sugar
- foods high in saturated and trans fats
This is due to the fact that diets that are high in sugar were shown to increase the risk of cancer in over 100,000 people over a ten year period of time.
Red meats such as veal and pork also up your risk so you could try and swap these for plant-based alternatives or opt for meats like chicken and turkey.