I had an abnormal pap smear test. My OB / GYN told me to go vegan



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Over the past seven years, I have had abnormal Pap test results. An abnormal Pap smear typically means that the cells of the cervix are changing because of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to cervical cancer. After my initial Pap smears, I did a biopsy and then an Electrosurgical Loop Excision Procedure (CAF), in which abnormal cervical cells are removed and prevented from turning into cancer, but I still have to monitor my risk. The biggest advice of my OB / GYN? Look at a vegan diet and stay away from smoking. Never a smoker, but always a meat eater, I took this advice seriously.

While research on this subject is ongoing, there are well-documented links between an herbal diet and a lower risk of cancer, according to the American Cancer Research Institute. "Almost all abnormal Pap smears are caused by a human papillomavirus infection," says Dr. Corey Babb, O.D., an OB / GYN from OSU Medicine. "Foods or diets that help boost the immune system may (theoretically) help prevent an abnormal Pap smear or cure abnormal cells if they are there."

After my abnormal Pap smear results, I noticed how much my life revolved around carbohydrates, meat, and cheese. Of course, I had my moments of greens, my fruit outbreaks, but overall, my eating habits would not be considered healthy. When I lived on food stamps for two years, I easily fell for buying snacks and rode quickly. dining in a drive thru. My resources were limited and my health was placed in the background.

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Although becoming vegan or making other lifestyle changes are not guaranteed ways to eliminate cancer risk, this experience made me realize that I had no choice but to start taking care of myself and my body because it is the only one I have . My squamous lesions (my unusual cells) are precancerous, which means they can change from "low grade" to "high grade". Low grade is when they may not turn into cancer for several years, it can turn into cancer much earlier. I had high grade injuries, which CAF was able to remove. But these cells can come back. It is assumed that an CAF prevents cancer cells from returning, but many patients need to have multiple CAFs, which means that the cervix is ​​cut and parts are removed (causing pregnancy concerns later in life). In order to prevent any future LEEP, or cancer, the only substantial preventative treatment is lifestyle change, such as what I eat.

Kate Callaghan, a holistic nutritionist, tells Bustle: "When we eat a balanced diet full of a variety of nutritious foods, we're giving our bodies access to a greater variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, proteins, fats and carbohydrates." This is useful in terms of promoting the immune response and the body's ability to cope with the disease, but it can also improve the risk of developing cancer. "It's also about avoiding foods that are pro-inflammatory, like processed vegetable oils, artificial sugars and sweeteners, refined grains and artificial food additives, flavors and colors," says Callaghan.

Babb says, "Too much inflammation can lead to decreased healing of these tissues / target cells. As such, diets that reduce inflammation of the system may be beneficial in reducing the effects of HPV in the cervix or other target tissues. "Research has found that many foods, such as broccoli, cabbage, radish and watercress, have anticancer components. In addition, many leafy greens produce isothiocyanates (ITCs) and have anticancer effects. In addition, a 2009 study published in International Journal of Cancer found that "a healthy, balanced diet that leads to high serum antioxidant levels may reduce the risk of cervical cancer in low-income women."

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There is evidence that foods that are anti-inflammatory play an important role in curing the cervix and combating HPV infection, but what happens when this type of diet is not accessible at all? For low-income people, or those living in deserts, access to a nutritious diet may be out of reach – and this can have a major impact on health outcomes. According to the American Cancer Society, Latinx women have "the highest evidence of cervical cancer," and black women have "the highest mortality," and a 2014 survey of 338 women published in the Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease found that these discrepancies may be due to lower screening rates and limited knowledge of cervical cancer in these populations. Approximately 530,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year worldwide, and more than 275,000 women die from it. These deaths occur mainly in low- and middle-income countries.

In addition to lifestyle changes, it is essential that people with cervix have regular exams. There are few external symptoms of cervical cancer, hence the nickname "silent killer." But becoming vegan is by no means a guarantee to reduce the possibility of cancer or eliminate it. Babb says "research is missing on this … at least in more traditional medical publications. You will find some information in more naturopathic and alternative medical literature, but this suffers from its own degree of bias and other potential problems. "

The treatment of cervical cancer depends on the age, type of cancer, health and desire to have children. In addition to regular Pap smears, Gardasil vaccination is the best preventive option for people of all sexes, ages 9-26, as it can protect the body against HPV strains that can cause cancer. Practicing safe sex, quitting smoking and being educated in HPV and cervical cancer are other interventions in the prevention of cervical cancer, says Planned Parenthood.

If you're looking to reduce the risk of cervical cancer by becoming a vegan, Callaghan suggests people "start slow" with the new lifestyle change. "It's not about being perfect all the time. We are human, so we need to allow a little leeway for these "less than healthy" foods and focus on what we are doing on a day-to-day basis, not once in a while. "

I'll be the first to admit it was not easy. I've struggled and slipped when it comes to my health. But ultimately it is essential to focus on the goal and ensure that you are giving your body the care it deserves.

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