Fifty percent of adult males in the United States and other countries may carry the human papillomavirus, or HPV, according to the University of Utah. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus known to cause cancer of the cervix, penis, vagina, oral cavity, anal canal, vulva, head and neck. An HPV prevention vaccine, for both men and women, is available through your primary care physician or local health department. However, if you are already infected with HPV you may benefit by consuming nutrient-rich foods that aid in preventing or slowing the progression of cancer cells.
Cruciferous vegetables contain sulfur compounds called glucosinolates. The breakdown of glucosinolates produces a compound known as Indole-3-carbinol, or I3C. I3C stops the progression of certain types of cancers. According to Linus Pauling Institute, preliminary research for HPV suggests a significant number of women taking 200 to 400 milligrams of I3C per day over the course of 12 weeks completely regressed the progression of precancerous cervical lesions. Results were similar when women consumed I3C for lesions on the vulva, a common complication of HPV. Good sources of IC3 include garden cress, mustard greens, horseradish, kale, watercress, turnips, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Cervical dysplasia is a grouping of abnormal cells in your cervix and a common symptom of HPV. Cervical dysplasia is a precursor to cervical cancer. According to University of Maryland Medical Center, females infected with HPV and deficient in folate, or vitamin B-9, possess an increased risk of developing cervical dysplasia. If you have symptoms of cervical dysplasia, folate may slow the progression from cervical dysplasia to cancer. However, consuming extra folate does not reverse the symptoms of cervical dysplasia. Good sources of folate include fortified breakfast cereal, whole wheat products, liver, eggs, legumes, asparagus, oranges, cantaloupe, strawberries and sunflower seeds.
Beta-carotene provides the pigment in plants and converts to retinol, a form of vitamin A, when it is consumed. Similar to folate, beta-carotene deficiencies may increase an HPV-infected female's risk of developing cervical dysplasia and cancer. Additionally, according to a 2010 study published in “Cancer Research,” females with high levels of beta-carotene were 43 to 50 percent less likely to acquire any HPV-related infections than females with low levels of beta-carotene. Good sources of beta-carotene include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, broccoli, lettuce and tomatoes.
Warts are caused by different strains of HPV. Warts can spread from one part of your body to another. To prevent or reduce symptoms of warts, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends eating foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals, cancer-causing agents in your body. Foods rich in antioxidants include blueberries, tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, zucchini, squash, green tea and bell pepper.
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Indole-3-Carbinol
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Warts
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cervical Dysplasia
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Cervical Dysplasia
- University of Utah: Half of U.S. Men Infected with HPV, Study Reveals
- Cancer Research: Plasma Micronutrients and the Acquisition and Clearance of Anal Human Papillomavirus Infection: The Hawaii HPV Cohort Study