Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the perpetrator blamed for precancerous lesions in cervical cells. A large percentage of young women are exposed to this virus through sexual contact.
A series of vaccines—Gardasil is one brand—target several strains which cause most cervical cancers. Not all cancers are caused by the strains so PAP smears are still recommended. Even so, many HPV infections are cleared over time by the immune system.
New research suggests that probiotics may help boost the immune system for this task.
The study reported in the European Journal of Cancer Research followed 54 women with an HPV plus low-grade lesion diagnosis in their Pap smear for 6 months. One group drank a probiotic drink daily during the study period; the control group received no treatment.
The probiotic group had almost double the chance of clearance of abnormalities: HPV was cleared in 29% of probiotic users yet only 19% of control patients.
More research is needed, of course, but the results introduce an entirely new option to manage cervical cancer precursors.