Early detection of cervical cancer is very important, as it is preventable and treatable. Nevertheless, cervical cancer is still a major healthcare concern India faces today. It ranks as the second most common form of cancer among Indian women, primarily affecting the middle-aged In 2022, India recorded 123,907 new cases and 77,348 deaths, constituting a significant one-fifth of the global burden.
The primary culprit is the persistence of a high-risk strain of human papillomavirus (HPV). Most women develop an HPV infection at some point in their lives, but most infections are cleared from the body naturally.
Lifestyle factors that influence the development of cervical cancer
Apart from HPV infection, certain lifestyle factors can also influence the development of cervical cancer. Younger first intercourse, multiple pregnancies and subsequent multiple births can increase the risk of cervical cancer. Other possible causes include excessive and multiple exposures of the cervix to the HPV virus.
Oral contraceptive use has also been shown to increase the risk of cervical cancer, although the cause is still unknown. Apart from lifestyle factors such as smoking, having multiple sexual partners, taking immune-suppressing drugs also significantly increases the chances of developing cervical cancer.
Maintaining overall good health improves one’s immunity and helps clear HPV infection from the body. Other measures that can help reduce the risk and prevent cervical cancer include condom use, choosing monogamous relationships for both partners, avoiding sex at an early age, timely prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and regular screening for HPV infection. In addition, it is important to vaccinate eligible individuals to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and lifestyle changes may be the key to protecting yourself from the HPV virus.