Detecting cervical cancer early is crucial, as it is both preventable and treatable. Yet, cervical cancer continues to be a major healthcare concern India faces even today. It ranks as the second most prevalent form of cancer in Indian women, primarily impacting those in middle age. In the year 2022, India recorded 123,907 new cases and 77,348 fatalities, constituting a significant portion of the global burden at one-fifth.
The primary culprit is the persistence of a high-risk strain of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Most women will catch the HPV infection at some point in their lifetime but most of the infection gets cleared from the body naturally.
Lifestyle Factors That Influence Development Of Cervical Cancer
Other than HPV infection, certain lifestyle factors may also influence the development of cervical cancer. Early age at first sexual activity, multiple pregnancies, and subsequent multiple childbirths can increase the risk of cervical cancer. Other probable causes include excessive and multiple exposures of cervix to the HPV virus.
The use of oral contraceptives has also been observed to increase the risk of cervical cancer, although the reason for this is still unknown. In addition to lifestyle factors such as smoking, having multiple sexual partners, consumption of immune-suppressing drugs also significantly increases the chances of developing cervical cancer.
Maintaining overall good health improves one’s immunity and helps clear the HPV infection from the body. Other measures that can help reduce risk and prevent cervical cancer include use of condoms, selecting to have a monogamous relationship for both partners, avoiding sex at an early age, preventing and treating sexually transmitted diseases on time, and regular screening for HPV infection. Further, it is very important to vaccinate eligible individuals to decrease their risk of developing cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and lifestyle modification can be the key to protecting oneself against the HPV virus.