Experts reveal diverse diet and regular exercise can help fight HPV
26 Jan 2023 --- Higher intake of fruits and vegetables and regular physical activity can play a vital role in protecting against human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a virus that can lead to the development of several types of cancer and is the main cause of cervical cancer.
The findings come from a recent study in China that investigated the link between lifestyle factors and the risk of HPV infection.
Most HPV infections in the study (83%) involved a sole HPV serotype – a distinct variation of the HPV virus. There are about 200 serotypes of HPV, with only two types causing about 70% of cervical cancer cases.
A balanced and varied diet was the most significant difference between sole and multiple HPV infections. More physical activity also reduced the risk of infection among participants. However, there was no significant difference regarding infection rates and sleep quality, depression or anxiety.
Following the study, researchers advise consuming an “appropriate amount of dairy products and animal food products with vitamin A as well as more fruits (e.g., tomatoes) and vegetables.”
Putting it to the test
Studying lifestyle impact on HPV risk is a novel approach, according to Dr. Yantao Li, who co-authored the study. HPV studies typically focus on sexual factors or gynecological infections in women.
The research was performed by BGI Genomics, a precision medicine company headquartered in Shenzhen, China and published in Sec. Gynecological Oncology.
The study recruited 495 women aged 18 to 59 years through a digital eHealth platform. Participants were assessed for physical activity, diet balance and HPV infection through questionnaires and HPV genotyping assay tests.
Physical activity was evaluated using self-reported questionnaires, where participants were asked about their frequency and duration of physical activity in the past year.
Participants were then classified into three levels of physical activity: low, moderate and high. The high-activity group included women who reported engaging in more than 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or more than 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
The study also found that patients with a high level of physical activity were less likely to be infected with HPV than participants with a low level of physical activity.
This suggests that regular physical activity also protects against HPV infection.
Diet balance and HPV risk
Diet balance was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire. This data was used to calculate the dietary diversity score (DDS) for each participant, which is a measure of the variety of different food groups consumed. A higher DDS indicates a more balanced diet.
The study found that the prevalence of HPV infection was significantly lower in women with a higher DDS than women with a lower DDS.
A diet with a higher intake of fruits and vegetables and a lower intake of fat and sugar, therefore, may have a protective effect against HPV infection.
It’s not the first time nutrition has been linked to female reproductive wellness. A study published in December found a link between low levels of fiber intake and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – a common endocrine disorder.
Women’s health in the spotlight
As one of the industry’s most steadily growing supplement categories, women’s health is earning its rightful place in the spotlight.
In 2020, the global women’s health and beauty supplements market was expected to reach US$49 billion but exceeded this value, reaching US$53 billion in the end.
Tech innovations like the Vagina Chip are helping expand knowledge of the complex workings of the vaginal microbiome. Other women’s health development is tapping into consumer demand for solutions that tackle menopause symptoms and plant-based options for prenatal supplements.
By Missy Green
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