New Delhi: Nearly 12 percent of women who use sanitary napkins are at a lesser risk of cervical cancer than women who resort to unhygienic sanitary practices, a survey said Tuesday.
"Unhygienic sanitary practices can lead to infections in the urinary tract. This can result in cervical cancer," Alka Kriplani, professor with the gynaecology and obstetrics department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The country-wide survey conducted by AC Nielson and voluntary organisation Plan India, among women and adolescent girls, also showed that the reproductive tract infection (RTI) incidence was 70 percent more common among women with unhygienic sanitary practices.
"Sanitary napkins in rural regions are hardly used and women are totally unaware about hygiene practices. So the incidences of cervical cancers and RTIs are more common there," added Kriplani.
Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women after breast cancer in the country.
The biggest barrier to adoption of quality sanitary napkins in India turned out to be "affordability and accessibility" as nearly 70 percent of women said that their families cannot afford sanitary napkins, the survey said.
The study stated that over 88 percent of women resorted to shocking alternatives such as cloth, ashes and husk sand during menstruation, thereby causing severe reproductive health problems.
"Apart from smoking and papilloma virus, dietary factors, multiple pregnancies, hormonal contraception, and family history of cervical cancer, HIV infection, and consumption of hormonal drugs can also lead to cervical cancer," explained Kriplani.
India has one-fourth of the world`s burden of cancer of the cervix with nearly 132,000 women being diagnosed every year.