For twelve years, researchers in India have been studying the effect and validity of screening for cervical cancer using vinegar. Now it's been determined that the test is, in fact, useful and a great alternative for those who lack access to regular Pap smears. On Sunday, Surendra Srinivas Shastri at Tata Memorial Centre in Mumbai presented these exciting results at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago. The study found that this has decreased the death rate from cervical cancer by one third, saving the lives of 22,000 women each year in India and 73,000 in less-developed countries.
These findings prove extremely significant for women in India, especially those in rural areas who are unable to see gynecologists and medical professionals on a regular basis. Many have never even had a Pap smear, despite having already given birth.
If women have "good communication skills" and a 10th grade education, they receive training for four weeks in administering the screening. In short, the test involves using a cotton swab of diluted vinegar (or 0.5 per cent acetic acid solution) to dab the cervix. Using light and a speculum, the professional examines the cervix for precancerous cells, which will turn white upon contact with the vinegar.
This process is referred to as VIA (Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid) and many studies have revealed it to be a cost-effective method. Women who have undergone the screening feel no pain and only mild discomfort, with 97 per cent recommending it to others.
Scientists are also working on cheaper methods of cancer prevention, since vaccines to prevent cervical cancer can be so very expensive. Carageenan, a carbohydrate extracted from red seaweed, has shown potential for stopping HPV infection. The gelling agent has restricted the infection in the lab and certain animal models. McGill University and the National Cancer Institute are joining forces to discover whether or not inserting carageenan into personal lubricants would prevent HPV.
Source: Washington Post
Photo via Washington Post and The News
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