Researchers believe that the regular consumption of certain foods – most notably, a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables – can provide protection against cervical cancer. The reason is that many cervical cancer cases are caused by a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. A diet that is high in antioxidants, carotenoids, flavonoids and folate – all of which are found in fruits and vegetables – can help the body fight off HPV and also prevent an HPV infection from transforming cervical cells into cancerous lesions.
Cervical cancer prevention through food choices
For cancer prevention as well as overall health and wellness, many experts recommend a plant-based diet that consists primarily of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. These foods contain a variety of beneficial chemical compounds that can be easily incorporated into daily meals. Some examples include:
- Flavonoids – These chemical compounds, which are believed to provide protection against cancer, are found in apples, asparagus, black beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cranberries, garlic, lettuce, lima beans, onions, soy and spinach.
- Folate – This water-soluble B vitamin has been found to reduce the risk of cervical cancer in women who have HPV. Foods that are rich in folate include avocados, chickpeas, lentils, orange juice, romaine lettuce and strawberries.
- Carotenoids – These valuable sources of vitamin A are found in most fruits, vegetables and beans, and particularly in orange foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and squash.
While a healthy diet is an important component of an overall cancer prevention plan, it should not be the only component. Because cervical cancer is often linked to lifestyle factors, it is essential to take other precautionary measures as well, such as not smoking, getting vaccinated against HPV, being monogamous and having cervical cancer screening tests (Pap smears) performed regularly at the intervals recommended by a physician.
Medically reviewed by Jing-Yi Chern, MD, ScM, gynecologic oncologist
If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, you can request an appointment at Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. Our gynecologic oncologists do not require referrals. Virtual visit appointments are also available.