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Inexpensive Vinegar Screening Test Reduces Deaths From Cervical Cancer In Large Indian Study

“A simple screening program for cervical cancer using vinegar and visual exams helped reduce deaths caused by the cancer by 31 percent in a group of 150,000 poor women in India, researchers reported on Sunday,” Reuters reports. “If implemented broadly, the screening program could lead to the prevention of 22,000 deaths from cervical cancer in India, and 72,000 deaths in the developing world each year, the team reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago,” according to the news agency (Steenhuysen, 6/2). “Pap smears and tests for HPV, a virus that causes most cervical cancers, have slashed cases and deaths in the United States,” but most developing countries “can’t afford those screening tools,” the Associated Press writes.

“This study tried a test that costs very little and can be done by [community health care workers] with just two weeks of training and no fancy lab equipment,” the news agency continues, noting the health workers “swab the cervix with diluted vinegar, which can make abnormal cells briefly change color” (Naqvi/Marchione, 6/2). Based on the results of the study, which was led by Surendra Shastri of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India, “the national government in India and the state government of Maharashtra, the state of which Mumbai is the capital, are instituting screening programs for all women,” Forbes reports (Herper, 6/2).