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India: Low-cost vinegar test reduces cervical cancer deaths by almost a third

This could be a game-changer for women in developing countries where pap smears and HPV tests are too expensive to administer widely.

India census 5 1Enlarge
Indian residents fill their bottles with drinking water from a government water supply tanker on World Water Day in New Delhi on March 22, 2013. (Raveendran/AFP/Getty Images)

A low-cost vinegar test reduced cervical cancer deaths in a group of poor women in India by 31 percent, researchers announced at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago on Sunday.

Starting in 1998, the researchers studied 150,000 women aged 35 to 64 with no previous history of cancer.

Some were randomly assigned to get a cervical cancer test that uses diluted vinegar to detect the presence of abnormal cells in the cervix every two years. The others were placed in a control group that received education on the symptoms of cervical cancer.

There was a 31 percent drop in cervical cancer deaths among the women in the screening group compared with the women in the education-only group.

This could be a game-changer for women in developing countries, which don’t widely offer the tests used to detect cervical cancer in developed countries – pap smears and HPV tests – because they are too expensive and logistically difficult to administer. The vinegar test is low-cost and can be performed by people with just two weeks of training.

Members of the research team, led by Dr. Surendra Shastri of Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, said the vinegar test could help prevent 22,000 deaths from cervical cancer in India and 72,000 deaths in developing nations each year.

"We hope our results will have a profound effect in reducing the burden of cervical cancer in India and around the world," Shastri said, according to Reuters.

“It's a very exciting result," Dr. Ted Trimble of the National Cancer Institute in the US, the main sponsor of the study, told the Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: 2 million cancer cases worldwide caused by infections, new study finds

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/130602/india-low-cost-vinegar-test-reduces-cervical-cancer-