Early diagnosis is vital in the treatment of cervical dysplasia, a condition in which abnormal, sometimes precancerous, cells develop on the lowest part of the uterus (the cervix). Regular Pap smears are the single most important habit a woman can adopt to detect dysplasia.
The majority of mild cases of cervical dysplasia regress on their own, but those left untreated are at risk of developing into invasive cervical cancer. Detecting and treating dysplasia early is essential for cancer prevention.
Most physicians quickly remove suspicious cervical lesions and require follow-up Pap smears at a frequency of every three to six months to rule out a recurrence.
Known risk factors linked to cervical dysplasia include the following.
Poor nutrition: Deficiency of vitamins B2, B12, B1, and folic acid are linked to abnormal cellular growth on the cervix. Without them the body has a weakened immune system and a decreased ability to fight viral infections, like human papillomavirus (HPV), and other known risk factors for cervical dysplasia.
High-risk sexual behaviour: Women who begin sexual activity before age 18 or have multiple sex partners have higher incidence of abnormal Pap smears.
HPV infection: According to the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (www.catie.ca), 80 to 90 percent of women with cervical dysplasia have an HPV infection.
HIV infection or immune suppression When the immune system is weakened by HIV, the healthy cells necessary to prevent progression of cervical dysplasia are diminished.
Smoking: Women who increase their exposure to cigarette chemicals like nicotine through smoking, second-hand smoke, or by having unprotected sex with men who smoke will increase their risk of dysplasia. Male smokers secrete these chemicals in their semen, and when a condom is not used, women absorb these chemicals through intercourse and risk cellular damage in the cervix.
Natural Treatment Options
Lifestyle changes will not only treat cervical dysplasia, but will also prevent recurrence. During the first three to six months, use herbs such as dandelion, milk thistle, turmeric, and
artichoke to cleanse the liver and improve healthy hormonal balance. Encourage the natural healing of cervical dysplasia in other ways as well.
Improve nutrition. Eliminate unhealthy fats by avoiding processed foods and refined sugar, red meats, full-fat dairy products, peanut products, and those containing hydrogenated oils. Vegetables and salads should comprise one-third of your plate twice each day; lean protein, the size and width of your palm, three times each day; and each meal should contain healthy fats such as olive, avocado, or walnut oils.
Take daily supplements. The most important supplement for prevention and treatment of cervical dysplasia is folic acid (see sidebar). Minerals such as selenium, magnesium, and zinc along with vitamins E, A, and C also offer a first line of defence. Because cervical dysplasia can be related to an excess of estrogen, indol-3-carbinol and the B vitamins, particularly B6, are especially useful for healthy hormonal balance.
Cervical dysplasia can be encouraged to regress on its own with the proper care and lifestyle considerations. Early diagnosis with an annual Pap smear is crucial to avoid invasive cervical cancer.
Folic Acid a Must
It is well documented that the birth control pill causes depletion of folic acid, vitamin B6, and zinc. Women using oral contraceptives should supplement with 5 to 10 mg of folic acid daily because of its known role in the formation of healthy DNA in fast-growing cells like those on the cervix.