What Common Kitchen Ingredient Can Help Detect Cervical Cancer?

By Kaylin Fabian, Associate Program Manager, Communications, PSI

Table vinegar can detect early signs of cervical cancer.

You read that right.

Each year, cervical cancer kills 270,000 women and a third of these deaths occur in just one country: India.

That is why Kathy Vizas, a member of PSI’s philanthropic initiative, Maverick Collective, is supporting a pilot project in Uttar Pradesh, India that aims to make cervical cancer screening and treatment routine.

“What we’re doing is very cheap,” explains Kathy. “Basically, we use table vinegar to do the screening. It’s a recognized method to screen for cervical cancer. In fact, some people think it may actually be better than a pap smear.”

“The beauty of it is that if they detect these very early signs of cancer, they can treat the woman right there.”

For Kiran Rawat, this was a life saver. Her first visit to a clinic was just a year ago, at the age of 35, when she went to see a doctor at a clinic the project operates from. The timing could not have been better – the screening revealed small lesions developing in her cervix, which, if left undiagnosed and untreated, could have become cancerous.

To date, 146,464 women have been screened for cervical cancer since the pilot started three years ago. Of those screened, 4,596 have been treated, including Kiran.

As the three-year pilot project closed this past January, the success of the project was quickly noticed by the government of Uttar Pradesh. PSI has since partnered with the state government and now offers screening and treatment in public clinics throughout the state.

To learn more about the project and cervical cancer, watch the PBS News Hour exclusive below, or click here.

Banner photo: © Population Services International / Banner Photo by: Gurmeet Sapal