According to the American Cancer Society, cervical cancer is the number two leading cause of death by cancer in developing nations among women.
The World Health Organization states that in 2008, cervical cancer took the lives of 275,000 women and that 70 percent of all cancer deaths occur in low-middle income countries.
Although these odds suggest that statistics in the United States may be less than other countries, holistic health is about caring not only for our bodies, but also for our environment, ecosystem, and individuals throughout the globe.
That’s why it’s important to take home a lesson from our friends in Thailand, where a simple and innovative procedure, developed by the John Hopkins Medical School in the 1990s, may end up saving many lives.
In this practice, a health practitioner will brush household vinegar onto the cervix, which will cause any precancerous spots to turn white.
The vinegar draws attention to the tumors because they contain more DNA, which means that there is more protein, and less water present. After the vinegar is brushed on, if any precancerous cells appear, they are immediately frozen off with a metal probe that has been cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide. This is known as cryotherapy.
Because this is a one-visit procedure (as opposed to Pap smears that can take weeks for lab results), and low-income countries often lack high-tech labs, this has proven to be a more effective method for many developing countries.
According to the New York Times, although this simple procedure can diagnose pre-tumors more accurately than a Pap smear, it also has more false positives, which can result in unnecessary cryotherapy and thus unnecessary side effects (generally a couple days of burning).
The good news is that the cryotherapy is about 90 percent effective, and is helping to "empowher" and possibly save the lives of many women throughout the globe.
Although it is too early to determine if the practice has lowered cancer rates in Thailand, the 6,000 women who were recruited 11 years ago for the first trial have still not developed any advanced cancer.
And how did this come to be in Thailand?