Profoundly simple revelation in early detection of cervical cancer in Indian women!

Jun 30, 2013 | Blog, Health & Hygiene

Eco Femme is dedicated to the health and education of women, and we love news of progression!

In rural India, customary cultural practices and beliefs perpetuate a heavy, palpable silence surrounding the physical, mental and social wellbeing of women and girls.  Female sexual and reproductive health is not merely taboo.  It’s an ingrained source of personal shame, often not even discussed amongst women family members living together.  When women are chiefly marginalized and not provided access to medical care, education and the vital freedom to learn about and discuss their bodies, easily preventable tragedies transpire in alarming numbers.  Astonishingly, a twelve year study of over 100,000 women in rural areas of India now confirms that cervical cancer can be detected early enough to save lives, using a simple, low-cost screening tool.  Vinegar.

A longtime favorite of eco-minded individuals for its seemingly endless applications, vinegar may now play a crucial hand in saving the lives of women in underdeveloped areas.  The study, conducted by Surendra S. Shastri, head of Preventive Oncology at Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, could transform mortality rates amongst women across the world.  According to The Times of India, “Wealthy countries have managed to reduce cervical cancer deaths by 80 per cent thanks to the widespread use of regular Pap smears. But cervical cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women in India and many other developing countries lacking the money, doctors, nurses or laboratories for widespread screening.”

The Wall Street Journal India Edition’s Peter Loftus reports,“With the VIA screen, vinegar is applied to the cervix with a cotton swab. The vinegar causes lesions to turn white, whereas healthy tissue doesn’t change color. After a minute, a health-care worker visually inspects the cervix with the help of a light, to detect any lesions”.  This inexpensive, sustainable and safe method of early identification of cervical cancer has the capacity to not only save lives in underdeveloped areas,  it facilitates essential conversations among women and girls.

As is usually the most successful way of opening the doors of dialogue in these cases, it was other female members of the villages and communities who helped to facilitate the study. “Researchers trained women to administer the screenings in their own communities, including some with no previous health-care experience. Also, trial participants went through a cancer education program and were offered free treatment if diagnosed with cervical cancer.” Witnessing recruitment for this study may very well have been the first mention of reproductive organs that many of these ladies and their daughters have ever heard!  Conversations are bound to begin!


Three cheers for healthy cervix’s!!!


Wall Street Journal India:

The Times of India: