January - National Thyroid and Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

The month of January serves as National Thyroid Awareness Month and Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. The thyroid gland plays a major role in some of our body's systems, as well as the cervix, which plays a major role in a female's reproductive system. Understanding the health issues that could develop within our bodies involving the thyroid and cervix, and learning about the ways a mindful diet could improve the functions of each, can aid us in the prevention of some disorders and cancers.



Thyroid Disorders and Diet

According to Dr. Melanie Goldfarb with Saint John's Cancer Institute, the thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that serves mainly in the endocrine system, and is located in the lower front region of the neck. It controls important functions such as metabolism, heart rate, body temperature, digestive functions, and other functions in the body. Some thyroid disorders and dysfunctions could include overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer. Women are more likely than men to experience thyroid problems, and if left undiagnosed, other serious health conditions can occur such as osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and infertility (Goldfarb).

Nutrition plays a significant role in the way our bodies function. Although there is no set diet that has been studied that can prevent against thyroid dysfunctions, a mindful diet could help in aiding the function of the thyroid gland. In an article titled "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Thyroid" by Harvard Health Publishing, it states that the following nutrition tips may help you feel good in addition to your prescribed medication from your doctor:

  • Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain foods, and lean sources of protein such as fish and beans.
  • Consume and use healthy oils such as olive oil.
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates, which usually includes most junk foods and sodas.
  • Consume more complex carbohydrates and increase your intake of dietary fiber which usually includes whole-grain foods, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.



Cervical Cancer and Diet

The cervix is located in the lower region of the uterus. Cervical cancer occurs when the DNA of the healthy cells in the cervix begin to mutate. The causes of cervical cancer are unclear, but factors such as environmental and lifestyle choices can play a role in whether cancer is developed (Mayo Clinic). Human papillomavirus (HPV), is a sexually transmitted infection that can play a part in the development of cervical cancer. Other factors include sex at an early age, other sexually transmitted diseases, a weakened immune system, exposure to smoking and to a miscarriage prevention drug (Mayo Clinic).

Certain vaccinations, screenings, and prevention methods can help reduce the chances of cervical cancer. In an article titled, "Cervical Cancer Prevention and Your Diet," author Madeline R. Vann states that a study published in the Cancer Research journal explains how women who had certain chemical compounds found in their blood tests were able to clear their HPV infection faster than others, thus reducing the risk of cervical cancer. "These compounds include:

  • Flavonoids (Flavonoid rich foods include: apples, asparagus, black beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cranberries, garlic, lettuce, lima beans, onions, soy, and spinach.)
  • Folate (Folate rich foods include: avocados, chickpeas, fortified cereals and breads, lentils, orange juice, romaine lettuce, and strawberries.)
  • Carotenoids (Carotenoid rich foods include the fruits, vegetables, and beans listed above, as well as orange foods: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash.)

No information from this website should be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or a qualified clinician or practitioner.


Sources: 

"Cervical Cancer." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 June 2021, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cervical-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20352501.

"Healthy Eating for a Healthy Thyroid." Harvard Health, 17 Nov. 2017, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/healthy-eating-for-a-healthy-thyroid.

"January Is Thyroid Awareness Month." Saint John's Cancer Institute Blog, 8 Jan. 2021, https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/blog/endocrine/january-is-thyroid-awareness-month/.

Vann, Madeline R., et al. "Cervical Cancer Prevention and Diet - Cervical Cancer Center." EverydayHealth.com, https://www.everydayhealth.com/cervical-cancer/prevention.aspx.