Nutrition and cervical neoplasia
- Cite this article as:
- Potischman, N. & Brinton, L.A. Cancer Causes Control (1996) 7: 113. doi:10.1007/BF00115643
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Epidemiologic evidence on the relation between nutrition and cervical cancer is reviewed. Cervical cancer is the leading cancer among women in many developing countries, and remains a major public health problem worldwide. This review of nutritional research on cervical neoplasia encompasses the range of epithelial abnormalities from early preneoplastic lesions to invasive cancer. Identified risk factors for cervical neoplasia suggest a multifactorial etiology with several cancer-associated human papillomaviruses (HPV) as the central cause. Studies of nutritional predictors of cervical neoplasia to date, however, have been limited by inadequate HPV measures, which compromise the interpretations of findings. Current research using accurate measures of HPV will be most revealing. Nonetheless, agreement in findings from previous studies suggest a role for nutritional factors in some or all stages of cervical neoplasia. Low vitamin C and carotenoid status are associated fairly consistently with both cervical cancer and precursors, whereas results for vitamin E status are less consistent. The effect of folate status may be restricted to early preneoplastic cervical lesions and not to more advanced disease. Current research is addressing nutritional influences on HPV infection and persistence and on progression of cervical disease. Limitations and recommendations for future research directions are discussed in light of methodologic issues related to nutritional and HPV research.