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Exercise can prevent cervical cancer

Physical inactivity has been associated with a higher risk of cervical cancer, as found in a U.S study.

The study was a case-control study which included 128 patients with cervical cancer and 512 controls. Control patients were women of similar race and age, who were suspected of having an abnormal growth but were not diagnosed with cervical cancer. Both groups of women filled out a questionnaire about their physical activity levels. Participants who reported, on average, no moderate or vigorous recreational physical activity were classified as inactive. Inactive was defined as fewer than four sessions (about 30 minutes each) of physical activity per month.

The study found women who reported that they did not engage in any physical activity were 2.43 times more likely to develop cervical cancer compared with women who reported exercise. The reported rates of physical inactivity were 31% for women diagnosed with cervical cancer and 26% among the control group. These findings were significant after adjusting for potential differences in smoking, alcohol intake, family history of cervical cancer, and body mass index (BMI).

exerciseThe study is important because it shows there are lifestyle changes that could influence whether or not women could develop cervical cancer later.

Australian research

study assessed the relationship between, physical activity and the prevalence of abnormal pap smear status indicating cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), a precancerous condition. In total, 348 women in Perth, WA visiting their GP for a pap smear were interviewed about sitting time, physical activity level and lifetime physical activity exposure. CIN was found in 15.8% of patients. The study found woman who were sitting for longer than 42 hours per week had a significantly increased risk of CIN, compared with sitting for less than 24.5 hours per week.

Reduce your risk

There could be other influential factors that increase risk of cervical cancer. We could speculate in the study exercise group they were more focused on healthy living, or had more regular pap smears. Keeping a healthy lifestyle has a plethora of health benefits. Here are some active steps that can help you decrease your risk of cervical cancer.

  • Increase your moderate or vigorous physical activity.  Guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, or a combination of the two. However, the U.S study shows even as little as 30 minutes a week will help decrease a woman’s risk.
  • Reduce your sitting time.
  • Know your family history.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get the HPV vaccine.
  • Have regular cervical cancer screening tests. This changed from the pap smear to the HPV test this month. Read our previous blog on the change to the new screening program.

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