(NEW YORK) — A medical study in India found that a test utilizing an acetic acid solution — vinegar — could help prevent cervical cancer in women.
The study analyzed over 150,000 women between the ages of 35 and 64, who did not have prior history of cancer. The women were randomly assigned to determine whether or not they would receive biennial screening using visual inspection with acetic acid.
The women in the control group received one round of cancer education at their enrollment. Comparatively, the women who were screened biennially also received multiple rounds of cancer education. Any women in either group who were diagnosed with cervical cancer received free treatment.
Women who were screened regularly were diagnosed with cervical cancer at a rate of 26.7 per 100,000 patients. Women in the control group registered a slightly higher rate of 27.5 instances of cervical cancer per 100,000.
While the overall rate of invasive cervical cancer was similar in the two groups, researchers found biennial screening to have other advantages. Women who received regular screening saw a 31 percent drop in their cervical cancer-related death rate. In fact, women who were more frequently screened saw their overall death rate drop by seven percent, because cancer was often diagnosed earlier.
The research has limited potential in high income countries such as the United States, because screening using Pap smears has already diminished the rate of cervical cancer incidence by about 80 percent. However, in other nations, including India, large-scale Pap smear screening or HPV DNA testing is not possible. In those countries, the so-called “vinegar test” could be a major breakthrough.
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