A new study released today found that cervical cancer deaths can be slashed by as much as one-third using a simple and inexpensive ingredient -- vinegar. Experts have called the news flat out "amazing," and the implications for women are just that.
In the study, released today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, researchers found that after studying 150,000 women in India, a simple vinegar test cut the cervical cancer death rate by 31 percent. It's thought that it could prevent more than 72,000 deaths annually worldwide.
While in the United States, Pap smears are readily available to screen for HPV (the virus that causes most cervical cancer) elsewhere in the world they are not due to costs and the need for training and lab equipment. So millions of women aren't screened, and many then die of cancer because they do not get treatment early enough, if at all. Having this test easily available will save lives -- lots of lives.
Besides being inexpensive -- the vinegar test costs less than $1 per woman, while a Pap smear costs about $15 -- it also doesn't have to be done by a medical professional. Anyone with a couple weeks of training can do it. According to the Wall Street Journal, the vinegar used "is not quite off-the-shelf household vinegar" but it's not far from it. When it's applied to the cervix, it can make pre-cancerous tissues turn white, which can be seen with no microscope.
Lately it seems as if I've heard of so many cases of cancer of all kinds affecting friends and family young and old, and I often get frustrated that science hasn't figured out more yet. We put so much money into research, and often it feels like we've made so little progress. So it's refreshing to see some good cancer news for a change.
Dr. Ted Trimble of the National Cancer Institute told the Associated Press, "That's amazing. That's remarkable. It's a very exiting result."
And it is. While it may not affect most of us of in the United States, it will help women around the world. It should also serve as reminder to those of us who do have access to Pap smears to actually go in and get them done. Call your doctor now if you're due for one.
Do you get regular Pap smears?
Image via Sean MacEntee/Flickr