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Are You at Risk for Cervical Cancer?

Cervical cancer is a diagnosis no woman wants to hear. To help lower your risk, use these suggestions.

Cervical dysplasia is abnormal cell growth in the uterine cervix considered to be precancerous. The condition is commonly caused by infection with certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). A vaccine to protect against this viral infection is approved for females ages 9 to 26, and may be approved for older women as well.

There are no symptoms of cervical dysplasia. While the vaccine may help prevent infection, a regular Pap smear is the best way to detect its presence. You can be affected by cervical dysplasia even if you've been vaccinated. To help reduce the risk of cervical dysplasia, you should:

1.   Practice safe sex if you are sexually active (abstinence also reduces the chances of exposure to HPV).

2.   Follow a healthy diet that includes generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, especially those in the cabbage family.

3.   Get regular exercise.

4.   Be sure to get adequate amounts of vitamin B6 in your diet, or supplement with a multivitamin or B complex.