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Miracle cancer cures? Ask for evidence

Miracle cancer cures? Ask for evidence

 

There’s no scientific evidence to show that lemon juice can cure cancer, despite what the internet might tell you.

The UK charity Sense About Science will on Monday issue a new edition of their excellent booklet “I’ve got nothing to lose by trying it” as part of the Ask For Evidence campaign, which aims to empower patients and their families to ask for the scientific evidence behind claims made for treatments and products. We wrote this short piece for their website, looking at some of the “miracle cures” for cancer we’ve encountered. Sense About Science has gathered these stories together and will be sharing them on their website over the course of next week.

At Cancer Research UK, we’re often asked about alternative cancer cures. These are usually circulated on the internet and end up plastered onto our Facebook page (often accompanied by the phrase “they don’t want you to know about it). Just a small selection of the cures we’ve heard about recently includes lemon juice, baking soda, apricot kernels, coffee enemas, tropical fruit, “alkaline” foods (whatever they are…), even bleach. But while there are plenty of ‘miracle cures’ out there, a little investigationshows that there’s very little evidence that any of them actually work.

In some cases – particularly chemicals found in plants and other foodstuffs – there may be lab studies suggesting it has an anti-cancer effect. But many things can kill cancer cells growing in a Petri dish in the lab, and chemicals that seem promising in the lab or even in animal models of tumours can be disappointingly ineffective when faced with the real deal in a cancer patient.

Yet the internet is bursting with anecdotes from patients who have apparently been “cured” by all kinds of pills, lotions and potions. So what should we make of them?

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