Research conducted by midwives reveals that a cheap, easy medical test using common household vinegar (acetic acid) successfully identified cervical cancer and its precursors.
In the study, midwives washed a patient’s cervix with vinegar, and then carefully inspected the cervix for any visual abnormalities. Vinegar causes cervical cancer cells and pre-cancerous lesions to turn white in color, aiding in their identification.
In the first phase of the study, 8,731 Zimbabwean women were tested for cervical cancer and pre-cancerous lesions using the vinegar test and Pap smears. A second phase of the study tested 2,144 women using the vinegar test, a Pap smear, and a confirming test.
Although not as effective as traditional Pap smears, the test did identify more than 75% of all cancers and potential cancers. Researchers argue that the test could be a lifesaver in the developing world, where only about 5% of women are tested for cervical cancer on a regular basis. Study co-author Dr. Paul Blumenthal of John Hopkins University Medical Center explained, “The test is safe, affordable and effective, and can help health-care workers make an on-the-spot decision as to whether the patient may need further attention.”