Many females I have seen over the years have told me about their concerns about having abnormal smear tests. Are you one of these women? Let’s have a look at your best solutions for this all too common complaint we see in women mostly aged from 25 to 35. It is interesting to note that on average less than 5% of all Pap smear test results find cervical dysplasia.
If a Pap smear comes back abnormal, the next step is often to have a colposcopy. A colposcopy is an “in-office procedure” that allows a doctor to examine the cervix more thoroughly. Depending on the findings, a cervical biopsy may be performed. Once cervical dysplasia is confirmed, treatment will vary, depending upon the severity. Don’t rush off and make rash decisions with cervical dysplasia. You do have natural options, and in my opinion if you follow the nutritional advice below your next smear will be fine.
Likely Causes of Cervical Dysplasia
While the cause is unknown, a number of risk factors have been identified.
- Multiple sexual partners
- Starting sexual activity before age 18
- Having children before age 16
- D.E.S exposure (the Oral contraceptive Pill from many years ago)
- Having had sexually transmitted diseases, especially HPV (genital warts) or HIV infection
Alcohol and Cigarettes
Smokers and drinkers are at a higher risk of cervical dysplasia. Why? because they are often deficient in folic acid, Vitamin C and zinc. In my experience, they also have a tendency to eat more refined and processed foods devoid of the crucial nutrients responsible for optimising cervical health. Smokers and drinkers in addition pay lip service to a healthy diet with a “token” of greens on their plate at night. Am I being hard on them? No, it’s their choice.
Diagnosis of Cervical Dysplasia (CD) Can Be Scary
Why? – Because of the association between CD and cervical cancer. I can assure you, the vast majority of women with cervical dysplasia do not go on to develop cancer, and most low cell grade smears revert to normal, particularly with effective the natural treatment. However, cervical dysplasia should not be ignored, it is a pre-cancerous condition which indicates that the cells of the cervix are changing and may eventually become cancerous if left untreated. What is the cell grading after your smear test? Higher grades can indicate higher abnormalities, although the Pap smear accuracy is still somewhat controversial. If your test results have initially come back positive for cervical dysplasia, you should request another Pap smear to rule out the possibility of a “false positive” test. True, I have seen this on so many occasions, an ititial test was “positive” and a further test was “negative”. Don’t get paralysis from analysis!
Watch and Wait Approach
Mild to moderate cases of dysplasia often require no treatment. A “watch and wait” approach is often taken. With this type of treatment, a colposcopy/biopsy is normally done every six to 12 months to see if the dyplasia is clearing up on its own or progressing. Why wait? Change your diet and lifestyle NOW and you will find in most all cases that your cells will return to normal.
Your Best Nutritional Approaches
1. Folic acid. The cervix is an area of your body with a high turn-over of cells, just like your mouth and gums, and it is an area which responds very well (and very quickly) to superior nutrition. Make sure you eat plenty of dark leafy greens, and as fresh as possible. This will ensure you get folic acid, which happens to be the most important vitamin to reverse an abnormal smear. Folic acid deficiency may increase the risk of CD and large dosages of supplemental folic acid (up to 5,000 micrograms (5 mg) per day for 12 weeks) in my clinical experience often reverses CD, even in the highest of grades. Lower doses (such as 400 mcg – 1 mg/day) may help prevent the development of cervical dysplasia in women infected with human papilloma virus (HPV). So, eat greens daily (lightly steamed or raw) and take folate.
2. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C): A “double-blind” study in patients with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), supplementation with I3C at a dose of 200 or 400 mg/day for 12 weeks induced complete regression in over 50% of cases. Both doses were of similar efficacy. (no patients in the placebo group had any regression). The lower dose (200 mg/day) can be obtained by eating about 200g of raw cabbage or Brussels sprouts per day.
3. Vitamin C. Vitamin C exerts a protective effect against cervical dysplasia. Women who consume less than 90 mg of vitamin C per day have 2.25 times the risk for cervical dysplasia. Women who consume less than 30 mg of vitamin C per day have 7 times the risk for cervical dysplasia compared to women who consume 60 mg or more of vitamin C per day. Take 1000 – 3000 mg each day, until you are “clear” then stay on 1000mg/day.
4. Zinc, Vitamin A. High plasma levels of Vitamin A were related to the regression of cervical dysplasia, especially in HPV positive women. A protective effect was also observed for high levels of zinc.
- Wassertheil-Smoller, S., et al. Dietary vitamin C and uterine cervical dysplasia. American Journal of Epidemiology. 114(5):714-724, 1981.
- Butterworth, C., et al. Improvement in cervical dysplasia associated with folic acid therapy . Am.Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 35:73-82, 1982.
- Becker, T. M., et al. Cigarette smoking and other risk factors for cervical dysplasia in southwestern Hispanic and non Hispanic white women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 3(2):113-119, 1994.
- Chen, D-Z., et al. Indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane induce apoptosis of human cervical cancer cells and in murine HPV16-transgenic preneoplastic cervical epithelium. Journal of Nutrition. 131(12):3294-3302, 2001.
- “National Cancer Institute Fact Sheets.” Human Papillomaviruses and Cancer: Questions and Answers. 06 June 2006. National Cancer Institute. 17 Oct 2006 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/HPV.
- Josefson, Deborah . “Mild cervical dysplasia often reverts to normal.” British Medical Journal 31813 February 1999 17 October 2006 http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov.