Cervical Cancer Risk Factors and Prevention Measures

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among Indian women. Although we do not know the exact cause of cervical cancer, it is understood that a few lifestyle and non-lifestyle-related factors can contribute to increased cervical cancer risk.

Becoming aware of various cervical cancer risk factors and following appropriate cervical cancer preventive measures can help women reduce their cervical cancer risk.

Most Common Cervical Cancer Risk Factors

One’s risk of developing cervical cancer is influenced by multiple factors. These may be specific lifestyle and non-lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors are also called controllable or modifiable factors, and non-lifestyle factors are referred to as uncontrollable or non-modifiable factors.

Having a better understanding of these risk factors plays a pivotal role in potential cervical cancer prevention and early detection.

How To Avoid/Prevent Cervical Cancer

Although there are no known ways to prevent cervical cancer, there are a few measures that can help women reduce their cervical cancer risk. The following are the important measures that can help women achieve possible prevention of cervical cancer:

Cervical Cancer Vaccination for Young Adults

It is important to note that 100% prevention and control of cervical cancer are not possible as we do not know the exact cause of the disease.

HPV vaccination is considered one of the most effective preventive measures for cervical cancer.

HPV vaccination is recommended as a cervical cancer preventive measure for girls between the ages of 9 and 26.

Presently available HPV vaccines include Cervarix, Gardasil, and Gardasil 9, along with the country’s first ingenious tetravalent vaccine, Cervavac. These vaccines provide protection against the following HPV strains:

Cervavix: HPV 16 and 18

Gardasil: HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18

Gardasil 9: HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58

Cervavac: HPV 6, 11, 16, and 18

HPV 16 and 18 are found to be responsible for about 70% of HPV-related cervical cancers, and all the vaccines listed above confer protection against these strains. Types 6 and 11 are responsible for anogenital warts.

It is interesting to note that these vaccines not only reduce the risk of cervical cancer but also other cancers like vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, anal cancer, and oropharyngeal cancer.

For all these reasons, it is important for young adults to consider taking the HPV vaccination to protect themselves against cervical cancer and other cancers.

Although HPV vaccination reduces the risk of cervical cancer significantly, it does not prevent it. Therefore, it is important for women to undergo regular cervical cancer screening even after taking the vaccine.

Who is at High Risk of Cervical Cancer?

There are multiple factors that contribute to cervical cancer risk. Women above age 45, women who have a family history of cervical cancer, those who have been exposed to DES in utero, those who have had early menstruation, early pregnancy, or multiple pregnancies at a very young age, those who lead a sedentary life, and those who smoke are found to have a higher chance of developing cervical cancer.


Multiple risk factors contribute to the development of cervical cancer. Becoming aware of possible cervical cancer causes and prevention measures can help women reduce their cervical cancer risk significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are no specific vitamins that guarantee cervical cancer prevention. However, a balanced diet that is rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can improve overall health and help reduce the risk of developing multiple cancers, including cervical cancer.

There are no specific vegetables that can prevent cervical cancer. Vegetables, in general, are an excellent source of necessary minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fibers, and their regular consumption can improve overall health and reduce the risk of various types of cancer, including cervical cancer.

Yes, obesity can increase cervical cancer risk. According to doctors, having excess body fat, especially around the abdomen, leads to chronic inflammation and hormonal imbalances, which are important risk factors for cancer formation. Along with this, obese individuals also have a weakened immune system and a reduced immune response, which makes them more susceptible to HPV infection, which is also one of the biggest risk factors for cervical cancer.

Breast cancer and cervical cancer arise from different tissues and are two distinct types of cancer. Being diagnosed with breast cancer does not directly increase one’s cervical cancer risk. It is important to note that it is possible to be diagnosed with two unrelated cancers at the same time. Appropriate preventive measures and regular screening can support effective management of breast and cervical cancers.

“How to avoid cervical cancer?” or “How to prevent cervical cancer?” is a common question asked by many. However, it is not possible to avoid cervical cancer completely. However, one may follow certain cervical cancer precautions that can reduce the risk of cervical cancer:

  • Practicing safe sex habits
  • Avoiding multiple sexual partners
  • Receiving HPV vaccination
  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Having an active lifestyle

The preventive strategies for cervical cancer are broadly classified into three levels:

  • Strategies for primary prevention of cervical cancer include HPV vaccination, practicing safe sex habits, and having a healthy lifestyle.
  • Strategies for secondary prevention of cervical cancer include regular cervical cancer screening through Pap tests and HPV tests.
  • Strategies for tertiary prevention of cervical cancer include timely treatment, appropriate follow-up care, and supportive care.