One of the main causes of cervical cancer is HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can develop and worsen if left untreated. Although there is no cure for HPV, there are a number of ways that you can reduce your risk of infection, which can also drastically reduce your risk of contracting cervical cancer.
What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a type of infection that spreads via skin contact. It can also be sexually transmitted and is one of the most common STIs in the United States. It is believed that at least 80% of women will contract at least one type of HPV in their lifetime. There are over 100 different strains of this virus, and many of them are harmless and will show no symptoms, eventually going away on their own over time with no long-term health problems. However, there are also other strains that are more dangerous and can result in a range of health conditions, including genital warts and different types of cancers, including cervical cancer. Different strains of HPV can cause different symptoms, and it is possible to contract more than one type over your lifetime.
In most cases, the body is capable of fighting off an HPV infection, and the virus is undetectable within two years of contracting it. Most people don’t even know that they have HPV as many strains of the virus are symptomless. When the body does become infected with a strain that causes cervical cancer, it can take years for the cells to progress from minor abnormalities to being cancerous.
Because cervical cancer can take years to develop, it can also take years to feel any physical symptoms, and by the time that you do, the cancer might be fully developed and harder to treat. Because of this, it is important to still get tested regularly for abnormal pre-cancerous cells, in case you do have a case of HPV you were unaware of that may turn into cancer. If caught early, abnormal pre-cancerous cells can be removed from the cervix before they have any long-term effects on the body.
Pap smears test for cancerous or precancerous cells caused by HPV
A pap smear is a test that is used to check for the presence of abnormal cervical cell growth, also known as cervical dysplasia. Any woman who is sexually active is encouraged to get regular pap smears. If your cervix cells are fine, your test will return a “normal” result. If your test returns an “abnormal” result, this just means that some cells have developed abnormally. This does not immediately signify the presence of HPV or cancerous cells, and there are many ways that cells can develop abnormally that are harmless.
Although cervical dysplasia can occur due to a number of conditions, HPV is one of the most common causes. Therefore abnormal cervical cells are heavily linked to HPV, and can possibly turn into cervical cancer if not monitored and treated properly. If you do take a pap smear and the results come back as abnormal, you may then be offered further testing, to more accurately determine the cause of your cervical dysplasia. You may be offered an HPV test or a colposcopy, which just gives doctors a closer and more accurate look at your cervix, to determine the presence of anything abnormal.
Can cervical cancer that is caused by HPV be prevented?
The good news is that there are a number of different ways that you can drastically reduce your risk of contracting HPV, which can then reduce your risk of cervical cancer. There are different forms of the vaccine, but currently, Gardasil 9 is offered to all boys and girls between the ages of 11 to 26. Ideally, people should get vaccinated before they become sexually active, so they can receive immunity before they are ever exposed to it. Although the vaccine does not cover all of the strains of HPV, it can create immunity against the main strains that cause cervical cancer. In fact, the rate of HPV infections that can lead to cervical cancer (and other forms of HPV-related cancer) has dropped by 40% since the vaccine became more common.
Currently, there is no cure for HPV. Its symptoms can be managed, but there is no way to get rid of it once it is in the body until the immune system develops a response. Because of this, the best thing to do is try and reduce your risk of infection as much as possible. Because HPV is a sexually transmitted infection (specifically the strains that lead to cervical cancer), the best thing to do is always use an appropriate form of protection when engaging in sexual activity with someone else, such as a condom or dental dam. If you can prevent the infection from happening, you can also prevent the risk of it developing into cervical cancer.
Another great way to ensure that you do not develop cervical cancer from an HPV infection is to live a healthy lifestyle. If you can make sure that your immune system is as strong as possible through a good diet, frequent exercise and adequate sleep, your body is far better prepared to fight off an HPV infection if you do get it. The quicker your body can eradicate the virus, the less likely that it is going to develop into cervical cancer or some other long-term health problem such as genital warts.
If you are serious about taking care of your body, you may want to start taking supplements that are specifically designed to help boost your immune system’s response against HPV. Whether you have already been infected or you just want to be prepared, Papillex can provide your body with the right nutrients to better respond to HPV. This supplement contains:
- Broccoli sprout extract
- Vitamin B9 folate
- Vitamin C
- Camelia Sinensis
- Vitamin E
- Ganoderma Lucidum
Supplements like this are not an alternative to a healthy balanced diet – they should be taken alongside healthy foods and appropriate meal portions.