“Actually”, I tell them, “there is. Most importantly, don’t smoke. And eat your fruits and veggies.”
That’s right. Have a carrot. Or a tomato or some broccoli. Or better yet, a papaya. Because numerous studies suggest that women who eat more fruits and vegetables have lower rates of HPV infection, faster clearance of HPV once they get it, and lower rates of cervical cancer overall.
We don’t know which of the many vitamins and substances found in fruits and vegetables are responsible for this antiviral effect. It could be the combination of substances rather than separate vitamins themselves, since treatments using supplements rather than foods have not been effective. And it’s not at all clear if these foods are helpful once precancerous lesions are established. If veggies do work to prevent cervical cancer, it is most likely early in the natural course of HPV infection.
Large controlled trials are still needed, but, while we are waiting for that evidence, I see no down side to telling my patients with HPV to increase their dietary intake of fruits and vegetables if, like most Americas, they don’t get enough already.
How much fruit and vegetables? According to the American Cancer Society, everyone should have five or more servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily to help prevent cancer.
Here’s a great recipe for Carrots.
Glazed Carrots with Lemon (Adapted from the Silver Spoon Cookbook)
The original recipe used sesame seeds instead of pine nuts, and pearl onions instead of shallots. I’ve also made it substituting olive oil for the butter, and it tastes just a delicious.
1 ¾ lb carrots, fairly thickly sliced
3 tbsp butter
2 shallots, chopped
Strained juice and grated rind of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Olive oil for drizzling
Put carrots in a bowl. Add water to cover and a pinch of salt. Let soak for 15 minutes then drain. Melt butter in a pan and add shallots. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice and rind and cook for a few minutes more. Add carrots, season with salt and pepper and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a heavy skillet.
Transfer the carrots to a small serving dish, sprinkle with pine nuts and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Here are a few references…