The risk of cervical cancer is linked to infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). Infection with HPV can cause genital warts (which is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in England) as well as changes to cells in the cervix which can sometimes lead to cervical cancer.
Women with unhealthy diets, based on meat, fatty and processed foods, have a higher cervical cancer risk but fruit and vegetables offer some protection. A low-fat vegan diet can significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer regardless of HPV infection.
Specific nutrients that may help protect against the disease include folate (folic acid) and vitamin B12. Folate occurs in a wide variety of foods including vegetables (particularly dark green leafy vegetables), fruits and fruit juices, nuts, pulses (peas, beans and lentils) and wholegrains. Avocado, beetroot, spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts are excellent sources of folate. Vitamin B12 can be found in fortified veggie burger mixes, yeast extracts, margarines, breakfast cereals and soya milks or supplements.
Read more about cervical cancer.