September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so it seemed right to visit some of the cancer “cures” that are out there.
You know how it is, you open Facebook and there is some new miracle cure being touted, or “things you never knew about….” with all new facts about illnesses that you thought you understood.
The only problem is, what is true? Medical discoveries are being made daily, but at the same time, fake news and conspiracy sites are flooding our social media. Here are some of the most popular over recent years, and the facts behind them.
With almost 360,000 people in the UK being diagnosed with some form of cancer every year, it is no surprise that cancer myths are so prevalent, with people desperate to believe that something will cure it.
Cannabis & Cancer
If you, or anyone in your family has cancer, someone will suggest a form of cannabis as a cure. But what are the facts?
- Research is being conducted into cannabis and various derivatives and their effects on cancer. Cancer Research UK is funding studies, and supports the UK clinical trials being conducted.
- Cannabinoids can help kill some cancer cells, but at the same time they can harm crucial blood vessel cells — having no cancer cells seems irrelevant when your blood vessels don’t work.
- Cannabinoids can encourage cancer cells to grow — so in answer to the question “What’s the harm in trying?” — potentially, worse cancer than you began with.
In September 2016 the website Health Eternally announced that “Scientists Find Root That Kills 98% of Cancer Cells in Only 48 Hours”, with an anecdotal tale of a man with end stage cancer going into remission having started drinking Dandelion Root Tea.
Dandelion Root Kills Cancer
The facts of the case are somewhat different to the headline however. Whilst dandelion root is being studied in relation to cancer treatment and prevention, and has been found to have some anticancer properties, this effect has not been found to work in humans. It can however increase oestrogen production, which can increase the growth of some cancer cells.
Plastic Bottles and Containers Cause Cancer
There are claims that chemicals found in water bottles and food containers can leach into the contents, and cause cancer when ingested.
Laboratory tests exposing human cells to very large quantities of the chemicals can show adverse effects, but these tests are far multiplied than the amounts that are actually consumed in normal life. Scientific studies show no danger from water bottles, including unborn children.
Sugar Feeds Cancer
The theory goes that cancer cells “feed” on sugar, therefore if you stop eating sugar, you kill cancer.
Our cells are far more complex, and also less specific than that. All cells use glucose (created by breaking down carbohydrates) for energy to grow. Cancer cells grow faster, so use more energy. You cannot pick and choose which cells get energy.
A healthy diet is important for living with cancer, as with life in general, but not because of the cells having a sweet tooth.
Cancer is a fungus — treat it with sodium bicarbonate, even stealth attack it
This is one of the more bizarre theories that has taken hold in recent years. It proposes that cancer is a fungus because cancer is white, and fungus is white. Are you keeping up? It continues that the way to kill fungus cancer is to give it sodium bicarbonate to reduce its acidity and kill it. Sometimes you should mix the sodium bicarb with maple syrup to make the cancer more likely to eat it — like a sugar Trojan horse.
This needs breaking down:
- Cancer is a fungus: Cancer is not a fungus. Not in the slightest. We know this through science.
- Cancer is white: Well, some tumours are, but far from all are.
- Injecting tumours with baking soda will kill them: That doesn’t treat fungus, let alone cancer.
- Sodium Bicarbonate will reduce the pH of the body: Enough sodium bicarb to reduce the acidity of the body will most likely cause the serious condition of alkalosis to occur.
- Sugar Trojan Horse: Cancer doesn’t have taste buds.
- Estimates show that 12g of sodium bicarb could counteract 1 cubic mm of tumour, but having more than 30g can cause serious health problems — at best you could counteract a whole 2 cubic millimetres of tumour with baking soda.
With anything that sounds like it could be a miracle cure ask these questions:
- Who is publishing it, why?
- Is it peer reviewed?
- Are there only positive outcomes mentioned?
- Is it all anecdotal evidence?
If it is a peer reviewed, scientific study published by a reputable source, with a balanced set of evidence shown, then it could have some grounding. Without those things, it’s most likely just another sugar Trojan horse.
If you are affected by cancer and want a “miracle cure”, speak to your doctor about research and drug trials.
Further topics that you may be interested in to help improve your health and wellbeing may include: liver health, BMI, benefits of walking, how what we eat affects the rest of our body, pro and prebiotics,
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