Do avocados reduce the risk of cervical cancer, and do they take "9 months to ripen"? No, that's not true: While avocados contribute to maintaining an overall healthy diet, researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) told Lead Stories "there are no research studies that we are aware of establishing a link between consumption of a specific food and risk of cervical cancer." A representative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) supports this statement. Also, avocados take 12 to 18 months to grow and mature -- not nine months as the post says.
The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on November 15, 2021. The caption is "This is great! 😍." It includes a meme titled "DID YOU KNOW?" with a graphic comparing an avocado half with a seed and a baby facing downward in a womb. The text beneath the graphic says:
The avocado is shaped like the pregnant uterus and has a big swollen seed inside. Did you know the avocado can reduce the risk of cervical cancer and also aids in the health of the womb and development of the baby? They also take 9 months to ripen.
This is what the post looked like at the time of writing:
While the post has more than one claim about the health benefits that avocados provide, this fact check is limited to the reduction of risk of cervical cancer and ripening within nine months.
NCI researchers who study cervical cancer cause and prevention said in an email to Lead Stories on November 24, 2021:
While eating a healthy diet, not smoking, getting physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are important to living a long and healthy life, there are no research studies that we are aware of establishing a link between consumption of a specific food and risk of cervical cancer. HPV is the causal factor of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents cancer at the cervix and at all other sites where HPV causes cancer. Routine screening for HPV at the cervix is highly effective at identifying high-risk, persistent infection with HPV, and the precancers to cervical cancer that can be treated.
In an email to Lead Stories on November 24, 2021, Eric Grant, a communication and media manager for the UICC, agreed with this, stating "30-50% of cancers are preventable."
Grant also referred Lead Stories to the UICC cervical cancer elimination page, which lists vaccinations and screening as the sole prevention methods. He cited a World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) article that mentions a healthy diet as a recommendation of cancer prevention.
Regarding how long it takes for an avocado to be considered ripe, a January 28, 2015, article on the California Avocado Commission website says:
Yep, that also means it takes an avocado 12-18 months to grow and become ready to eat. The avocados you see at the grocery store or farmers' market took 12-18 months to grow and mature.
Lead Stories reached out to an avocado industry organization for comment on the ripening time for avocadoes and will update this article if a response is received.