Is Your Daughter At Risk for Cervical Cancer? 3 Ways to Lower Risk

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“Dear Pharmacist,

My daughter has cervical dysplasia, and I’m wondering if the HPV vaccine will protect her from getting cancer. Will it? How can a young woman protect against this cancer?”
–J.D., Silver Springs, Florida

It’s great that you’re proactive about your daughter’s health. Understanding the role of the HPV vaccine in preventing cervical cancer can help you make informed decisions.

The HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine may be effective in preventing infections (but not cancer itself) from certain specific high-risk HPV types but not all cervical cancer cases. Gardasil 9, for example, has some activity against nine HPV types (6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58), which when added up together account for about 90% of cervical cancers.

Impact on Existing Cervical Dysplasia: If your daughter has already been diagnosed with cervical dysplasia, the HPV vaccine won’t eliminate existing dysplasia or infection. It’s not a cancer treatment. However, some people say it provides some degree of protection against other strains of HPV she might not yet have contracted.

Safety Information on Gardasil is HERE.

Preventing Progression of Cervical Dysplasia: While HPV is the leading cause of cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer, not all dysplasia progresses to cancer. The risk of progression depends on the severity of dysplasia. Your daughter’s doctor may recommend a “watchful waiting” approach for mild dysplasia, as it often resolves on its own without treatment. More severe dysplasia typically requires treatment to prevent progression to cancer.


Lifestyle Factors: Several lifestyle factors can help reduce the risk of developing cervical cancer. These include avoiding smoking, limiting the number of sexual partners (which reduces the likelihood of HPV infection), and using condoms. Additionally, maintaining a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can support the immune system.

Nutritional Support: Emerging research suggests that nutritional factors such as folate and vitamin B12 levels might play a role in preventing cervical dysplasia from progressing to cancer. I think this fact is one of the most important things you can do.

Ensuring adequate natural folate intake is important as it helps in DNA repair and synthesis. Women can ensure adequate levels through diet or supplements.

Detoxifying the body and keeping your liver healthy is important for optimal health and wellness. You might consider reading this blog next, The Art Of Detoxification: 8 Ways To Cleanse Your Body Naturally.

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Lowering Your Risk

To help lower the risk of cervical cancer, aside from the obvious medical checks like regular Pap tests, there are a few lifestyle adjustments that are powerful in their simplicity and effectiveness.

Here are three that I advocate for strongly:

  1. Embrace a Rainbow Diet: Fill your plate with a kaleidoscope of fruits and vegetables. These natural beauties are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage and bolster your immune system. Let’s not forget the superstars—cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These contain special compounds that might just be your cellular armor against cervical cancer.
  2. Stay Active and Keep Your Weight in Check: Keeping a healthy weight isn’t just about looking good—it’s about feeling good and keeping your body in cancer-fighting shape. Obesity is linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including cervical cancer. Regular physical activity not only helps you maintain your weight but also improves your overall health and supports a robust immune system, which is crucial for fighting off infections and other health threats.
  3. Boost Your B Vitamin Intake, Especially Folate: Folate, a critical B-vitamin, is a must for DNA synthesis and repair. Maintaining proper folate levels ensures that your body’s cells are healthy and well-regulated, including those in your cervix. Low folate levels have been linked to a higher risk of cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer. Amp up your intake by enjoying more leafy greens, beans, peas, and nuts, or consider a folic acid supplement to keep your folate levels optimized.

By integrating these simple yet impactful habits into your daily routine, you can significantly enhance your body’s defenses against cervical cancer. Remember, it’s not just about one big change; it’s the everyday little things that add up to a big difference in your health.

Concluding Thoughts

Cervical cancer can often be prevented through regular screening (Pap tests), HPV vaccination, and by taking proactive measures regarding sexual health and lifestyle choices. I recommend that you discuss these options with your daughter’s healthcare provider to tailor a prevention strategy that suits her needs, being mindful of the importance of natural folate and B complex vitamins.