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Mon 10 Sep 2007 04:00 AM

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Vinegar may aid cervical cancer fight

Simple screening methods could cut cases of cervical cancer in developing countries, researchers say.

Simple screening methods could cut cases of cervical cancer in developing countries, French researchers have said.

Writing in the Lancet medical journal, the team tracked the effectiveness of an inexpensive screening method involving acetic acid, a chemical compound present in vinegar, a halogen lamp and gauze to detect pre-cancerous lesions.

Researchers led by Dr Rengaswamy Sankaranarayanan of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, used the technique to screen 49,311 Indian women. The subjects, aged 30 to 35, were screened between 2000 and 2003. Women found to have pre-cancerous lesions received immediate treatment.

The study group was compared with another 31,343 women who did not receive the test but were told to watch for signs and symptoms of cervical cancer and encouraged to undergo screening. There were 167 cases of cervical cancer and 83 deaths among the women who received the vinegar test, compared with 158 cases and 92 deaths among the control group. This equated to a 25% lower incidence rate and a 35% lower death rate among those given the test.

The researchers concluded: "Our findings indicate that [the test] is a simple, feasible, and effective method to prevent cervical cancer and death among deprived populations in developing and developed countries."

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women in developing countries, where 85% of the estimated 493,000 new cases worldwide occur.

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