Cervical cancer and lifestyle

As well as human papilloma virus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV), women can also become susceptible to cervical cancer as a result of their lifestyle, especially the use of tobacco and a diet devoid of fruits and vegetables. Dr Noleb Mugisha, an oncologist at Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) says it is important to note that some of these risk factors cut across cancers, never presenting anything unique to distinctly peg it to a particular cancer.


The ingredient in tobacco that people crave for; nicotine in and of itself has the ability to kick start a cancer change process in a cell. “Therefore, the more nicotine one consumes, the greater the probability of getting several cancers, including cancer of the cervix,” he says.

Poor diet

When one feeds on food items that have no nutritional value, Dr Mugisha says, their body will be unable to fight off infections. A balanced diet that comprises fruits and vegetables is necessary for the body rather than feeding it on junk foods that mainly contain processed sugars and unhealthy fats.


Adopting healthy practices puts the body in a better position to fight off opportunistic illnesses. That is because these habits boost the body’s immunity to not only keep cervical cancer at bay but to also give one a better fighting chance against chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Fruits and vegetables

These contain antioxidants and when consumed can neutralise toxins or poisons that our body cells secrete as they go about the usual work. These toxins are unhealthy for the cells and must be cleaned consistently. One of the cleaning agents is the blood as it flows through the body. However, if this blood contains antioxidants, then the blood is even more efficient at cleaning up the body of toxins enabling it to fight against cancers.

Apart from eating these, Dr Mugisha says one must ensure the fruits and vegetables are clean to avoid other disease causing germs such as E coli.


Living a healthy lifestyle also means living an active life. The activity is dependent on one’s age. For example, if you are younger, jogging may work well coupled with weightlifting. However, when a little older, a brisk walk or gardening may be all that is required. Exercising helps to reduce stress and anxiety while also making the body better prepared to fight disease.

Screening/pap smear

This is crucial in women of child bearing age and should be done every three years for those without HIV or every year for those who are HIV positive.

 “Cervical cancer screening can be done at any medical facility be it public or private. While it is free in public medical facilities, the test starts from Shs50,000 upwards in private facilities. One may have to wait for up to three days to receive their results.


This is also an amazing way to prevent cervical cancer. Usually, girls  who are ten years are vaccinated because it is believed that at this age they are not yet sexually active and do not have HPV.

“However, vaccination does not work in isolation. The other preventative measures such as sticking to one partner, delaying sexual intercourse, and living a healthy lifestyle are necessary,” Dr Mugisha says.