Recent evidence indicates that boron and borates may have anticarcinogenic properties. In this study, we have investigated the incidence of adverse cytological findings in cervical smears and the micronucleus (MN) frequency in women living in boron-rich and boron-poor regions. Cervical smears were prepared from 1059 women with low socioeconomic status; 472 of the women lived in relatively boron-rich rural areas, while 587 lived in relatively boron-poor regions. The average and standard deviation values for the age of the women screened with the cervical Pap smear test were 41.55 +/- 8.38. The mean dietary intake of boron was 8.41 mg/day for women from the boron-rich regions, and 1.26 mg/day for women living in the boron-poor regions (P < 0.0001). Women from the boron-rich regions had no cytopathological indications of cervical cancer, while there were cytopathological findings for 15 women from the boron-poor areas (chi(2) = - 10.473, P < 0.05). Sixty women, 30 from each region, were chosen for evaluating MN frequencies in exfoliated buccal cells. MN frequencies for women from the boron-rich and boron-poor regions were not significantly different (t = -0.294, P > 0.05). Also, there were no significant correlations between age and MN frequency for women from both the boron-rich (r = 0.133, P = 0.48, P > 0.05) and boron-poor (r = -0.033, P = 0.861, P > 0.05) regions. The results suggest that ingestion of boron in the drinking water decreases the incidence of cervical cancer-related histopathological findings. There was no correlation between the pathological findings from the cervical smears and buccal cell MN frequency suggesting that the two study populations were exposed equally to gentotoxic agents. Nonetheless, cervical cancer-related histopathological findings should be validated by other researchers. (c) 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.