Simple Cervical Cancer Test Using Vinegar Saving Lives in India

In the second most populous nation on the earth, India, over 130,000 women die annually from cervical cancer. Recovery rates from this cancer are very good especially if the disease is detected early, but that has been a problem in India up until recently.

In the West, a pap smear is performed to test for the presence of the disease, but the cost of that test makes it difficult for India’s poor to obtain. However, scientists have devised a “poor man’s version” of the Pap smear that utilizes vinegar and can be administered by anyone.

It takes a fortnight in order to get the skill needed to administer the test and no advanced lab work is needed. Apparently, the cancer cells react with the vinegar-based solution to change color which makes the cells detectable without the lab work required with the traditional Pap smear, the team reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.

“We had a 31 per cent reduction in cervical cancer death. That was very significant,” said Dr Surendra Shastri of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India, who led the study and presented the findings at the meeting. The study also showed a 7 per cent reduction in deaths from any cause, although that finding was not statistically significant.

So how effective has this new method been? The rate of deaths by cervical cancer in India has decreased by 31% due to the method. Additionally, women who would normally feel inhibited by a doctor giving them an exam can have the test performed by someone they know and trust. The National Cancer Institute of the United States sponsored the study.

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Vinegar cancer test saves lives, India study finds

Vinegar cancer test saves lives, India study finds