The following is excerpted with permission from a book written by Dr. Richard Podell, M.D. This information has been helpful to thousands of people in the past, but is not meant to replace your physician. Be sure to check with your physician before undergoing any change in diet. ©1993 The Podell Medical Center, all rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission. (see Podell Medical Center) http://www.DrPodell.org
CANCER OF THE CERVIX
Kate is now 26. She may not die from cancer of the cervix, but she will never have children. Her cancer developed because of many reasons, but one crucial factor that could have made a difference was recognizing that Kate had an inherited biochemical abnormality that made her cancer-defense system need more folic acid than normal. This special need for folic acid–which affects at least 5% of all Americans– was made worse by the folic acid blocking effects of her birth control pills. Kate’s gynecologist, not having kept up with nutrition, just didn’t know that a simple folic acid supplement might have kept Kate’s abnormal Pap smear from progressing on to cancer.
About 1% of American women will develop this cancer. Unlike most cancers, cancer of the cervix can strike women at any age– from teenage into old age.
The main cause of cervical cancer is a sexually transmitted virus, human papilloma virus (HPV). A woman transmits it to a man; who may then transfer it to another woman. Therefore, cervical cancer risk is much higher among women who have been sexually active with many partners. Cancer of the cervix usually evolves in stages over several years. It’s earliest phase is what your doctor looks for when you get a Pap smear.
However, not all people who are exposed to HPV virus develop abnormal Pap smears. Nor do all people who have abnormal Pap smears go on to cervical cancer. In fact, cervical cancer doesn’t evolve overnight. It begins first with an abnormal Pap smear, but then transforms in stages over several years before it becomes completely malignant. Folic acid and possibly other nutrients play a key role in retarding this progression.
Definitely Effective: Sexual common sense Regular Pap Smear checks Probably Effective: Identification of women who have low folic acid and/or a metabolically increased need for folic acid Probably Harmful: Birth control pills
FOR GREATER DETAIL
Birth Control pills: One of the less publicized side-effects of estrogen supplements is that it partly blocks the metabolism of folic acid. Both birth control pills and low folic acid each predict a higher risk of abnormal Pap smear and an increased likelihood of the abnormal Pap smear evolving in stages toward cancer. See folic acid below.
Identification of women who have low folic acid and/or a metabolically increased need for folic acid: Having a low blood level of folic acid increases the risk of becoming infected with the cervical cancer causing HPV virus, and an abnormal Pap smear progressing on to cancer. Often this is due to not eating enough folic-acid rich fruits and vegetables. However, part of the problem is that 5% or more of the population have a greater-than-normal need for folic acid. They may be functionally deficient in this vitamin (folic acid) even if their blood folic acid levels are normal. Folic acid can be detected by a simple blood test that measures the level of an amino acid, homocysteine. Homocysteine requires folic acid (and also B 12) for its biochemical conversion into Methionine. So, homocysteine rises if your folic acid (or vitamin B 12) level is less than optimum for you–Thus you may need additional folic acid even if your folic acid level measures are statistically normal. Regular Pap smear checks: Cervical cancer risk begins with the start of sexual activity–no matter how young. Fortunately, most cases can be treated before cancer occurs using medicines or surgical procedures that still preserve the future ability to have children. Sexually active women should have annual Pap smears until they have 3 consecutive negative smears. Then reexamination may be moved to once every 3 years. These exams should continue even into old age. Sexual Common Sense: It’s not unlike preventing HIV. Celibacy or mutual monogamy are the safest courses. When this is not an option, extreme care in picking your partners is the next best choice. Latex condoms may help protect.
SUPPLEMENTS FOR REDUCING CERVICAL CANCER RISK
Probably Effective: Folic Acid 0.4 to 5 mg Possibly Effective: Selenium 50 mcg
FOR GREATER DETAIL
Folic Acid: Compared to similar women who have normal folic acid, women who have low blood folic acid levels have a five-time higher risk of becoming infected with the cancer-causing papilloma virus. Low folic acid inhibits the body’s ability to fight off an infection with this tenacious virus.
In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Charles Butterworth, Jr., Chairman of the Nutrition Department at the University of Alabama School of Medicine, proved that folic acid can reverse the progression of an abnormal Pap smear. His team treated women who had abnormal Pap smears with either a high dose (10 mg) folic acid pill or a placebo. After 6 months, Pap smear readings and biopsies from the cervix had improved toward normal in the women taking folic acid, but had not changed much among the women taking a placebo.
CAUTION: You should take extra folic acid only if you have been assured that your vitamin B 12 level is okay. (Increasing folic acid can be harmful if your vitamin B 12 is deficient.)
Selenium: The level of the mineral selenium tends to be lower in women who have abnormal Pap smears. As of this writing, no studies have tested whether selenium supplements help prevent cervical cancer.
Vitamin A: Women with abnormal Pap smears tend to have lower levels of vitamin A. One study found that women who had abnormal Paps and low levels of vitamin A in their blood were 3 times as likely to develop more severe Pap smear changes or early stage cancer compared to women who had an abnormal Pap smear and normal vitamin A. Unfortunately as of this writing, no good studies have been done to test whether taking extra vitamin A actually helps heal or prevent an abnormal Pap smear.
CAUTION Do not take extra vitamin A if you are pregnant. Extra vitamin A can harm the developing fetus.
Vitamin C: Tends to be lower among women with abnormal Paps. As of this writing, no studies have tested whether vitamin C supplements help prevent cervical cancer.
Vitamin E: Tends to be lower among women with abnormal Paps. As of this writing, no studies have tested whether vitamin E supplements help prevent cervical cancer. Recommendations: If you are concerned about cervical cancer or have an abnormal Pap smear:
Consider the following nutritional supplements: Folic Acid: 0.4 mg to 5 mg (Doses over 0.4 mg should be taken only with medical supervision.)
This information has been helpful to thousands of people in the past, but is not meant to replace your physician. Be sure to check with your physician before undergoing any change in diet.
We recommend taking the anti-oxidants
PowerVites, PowerMate, and either Primrose Oile or Signal369.