Folate, Green Tea and Vitamin D reduce risk for cervical dysplasia
By Bettina Buch, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist, Reg Cytologist
Every three years women have the pleasure to see their GP or sexual health clinic for a check-up – for a Pap smear that is. An abnormal result can cause a lot of stress and upset.
The cells from abnormal cervical tissue includes low grade (CIN I) and high grade precancerous stages (CIN II and CIN III) as well as cancer changes to cells that are seen under the microscope. The recommendations from the GP or specialist relate to the severity of the changes noted. First time low-grade changes are followed up by a repeat smear within a year. Recurring low grade abnormalities or high grade changes including cancer are referred to a specialist at the colposcopy clinic. A test for HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is also added as this infection is known to be a causative factor for cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer; however abnormal changes have also been diagnosed in women not infected by HPV. Women then are advised to have a biopsy or are referred for more involved surgery in the case of a cancer diagnosis.
But there is much more you can do to support the health of your cervical tissue. Folate, green tea polyphenols and vitamin D all have shown to have a protective role against the development of cervical dysplasia or cervical cancer.
Women with higher levels of folic acid (folate or vitamin B9) have shown to be at significantly lower risk of becoming infected with HPV[i]. But even if an individual is already infected with HPV folate can still help: women with higher folate levels were more likely to have negative HPV results when retested, which means that the immune system cleared the virus. Women who are on oral contraceptives are particularly at risk of folic acid deficiency and supplementation has shown to decrease the risk for HPV infection and improve cervical dysplasia[ii]. One of the very best ways we know of to get all your folate needs from dietary sources is from a daily green smoothie.
GREEN TEA POLYPHENOLS
These are the antioxidants in green tea, and have shown an ability to reduce and even inhibit growth of abnormal cervical cells or cells affected with HPV[iii]. The green tea extract forces abnormal cells to die off quicker and enhances normal development of cells.
The Sunshine Vitamin has also been shown to block the growth of abnormal cells. The body converts vitamin D into its active form “calcitriol” which has a beneficial impact in the prevention of cervical cancer as well as reducing the spread of cancer[iv]. Current laboratory values set the lowest recommended level of vitamin D in blood serum at 50 nmol/L. However according to newest research the lowest recommended level of vitamin D should be at 80-100 nmol/L. A study of the Ministry Of Health in 2008/9 stated that more than 30% of the adult population in New Zealand has a vitamin D level of under 50nmol/L.[v] Considering our busy lifestyles – often spent inside and not outside in the sun – plus the frequent use of sunscreen/UV protective makeup, environmental factors that reduce UVB exposure and other individual considerations, a vitamin D supplement may be needed to support the health of your cervical tissue.
Here at House of Health we can offer you the very best advice regarding your female health and work with you to create an individual plan for your health concerns.
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[i] Chandrika et al, 2004 [ii] Bielenberg, J., 1992 [iii] Yokoyama et al, 2004 [iv] Vitamin D Council, 2011 [v] Ministry Of Health, 2008/9 Adult Nutrition Survey