Together we will beat cancer


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 investigation shows 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?

Despite what people may claim, videos and stories are not scientific evidence for the effectiveness of any cancer treatment. When faced with a patient story, it’s impossible to tell whether these patients have been ‘cured’ by a particular treatment or not. We know nothing about their medical diagnosis (did they actually have cancer? If so, what type and how was it confirmed?), the stage and aggressiveness of the disease or their outlook.

Often it turns out that people have had conventional cancer treatments too, yet this may not be mentioned. We don’t know about the chemical composition of the treatment they got – for example, one alternative prostate cancer treatment was found to contain prescription drugs. And we only hear about the success stories – what about the people who have tried alternative therapies and not been cured? People who make bold claims only pick their best cases without presenting the full picture.

This highlights the importance of publishing data from rigorous lab research and well-designed clinical trials in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals. Conducting proper clinical studies enables researchers to compare like with like, and prove that a prospective cancer treatment is safe and effective. And publishing their data in scientific journals allows doctors around the world to judge for themselves and use the information for the benefit of their patients.

This is the standard to which all conventional cancer treatments are held, and it’s one that alternative treatments should be held to too. Anecdotes and videos prove nothing and benefit no-one – we need reliable, scientific research to judge whether a treatment is effective.

When faced with a diagnosis of cancer, it’s tempting to turn to “Dr Google” to find out more, but we urge patients to check out the evidence behind any alternative treatments they might be thinking of taking and talk it through with a medical professional. Not only are people at risk of wasting their time and money on completely ineffective treatments, there is also the possibility that a therapy might be harmful or interact with conventional treatments.

Through our information services, we’re well aware how distressing this kind of misinformation about ‘cures’ for serious illnesses can be for people. It gives them false hope and can lower their confidence in the treatment they are receiving from their own doctors.

Cancer Research UK’s CancerHelp website provides a wealth of information on a range of alternative and complementary therapies, which is all supported behind-the-scenes by solid scientific research. We’ve also written here on the blog about conspiracy theories, alternative treatments and more.

Elsewhere, the American Cancer Society also has an impressive collection of evidence on alternative treatments, and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre maintains a searchable database on herbs and supplements. Finally, Quackwatch has a list of some of the more unusual ‘miracle cures’ and a special message for patients seeking alternative treatments.

If you want to talk to someone about any cancer treatment, call the Cancer Research UK Information Nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, 9am-5pm Monday-Friday.



Tdwimo Skocker March 8, 2014

To all BIG MOUTH who shout there is no cancer conspiracy, get out of your ignorance
and search for: 1) Bill Henderson web page 2) Story of William D. Kelley, DDS 3) The
Cancer Conspiracy 4) Chemotherapy Genocide 5) The Cancer Industry – Ralph Moss, PhD 6) Story of Dr Royal Raymond Rife 7) Story of Dr Max Gerson 8) Supression and Persecutions of Natural Cancer Cures. 9) The Cancer Mafia, etc. 10) ESSIAC CURES.

Roberto Pablo Acevedo February 24, 2014

@Francisco Silveira – That is fantastic that you have found a cure for cancer! I would love to see double blind studies of your formula in a peer-reviewed journal. You should be nominated for the Nobel Prize for medicine.

Tongue firmly planted in cheek, in case you didn’t catch on.

Francisco Silveira February 3, 2014

My name is Francisco Silveira. I’m 82 and by the way you judge people who cure themselves with natural products, I’m a Quack.
My medical records show that I have cured my skin cancers and about one-year-ago, my homemade medicine also cured multiple tumors in my liver, spleen and a bleeding one in my bladder. What you have to treat any cancer will be considered by the coming generations; the Dark-Ages of Medicine. Before calling other people quacks, look at yourselves. Look at your survival rates.

Bill January 29, 2014

Some people here need to study science more as it is a proven fact by science that
there are what many would call alternative medicine that actually work! I have researched and read over 1.5 million pages of research from around the world and have found many cures for disease. Most people do not know that Some Doctors in the U.S. wrote books an Curing disease in the late 1800s -early 1900s. In their books they
wrote about how they cured all types of cancers and other disease. CURED DISEASE!
Best wishes to those looking for the truth and a cure to disease.

Stephen January 28, 2014

Well, there are doctors who have had great success by using natural treatments. Most cancer patients die from the poison of chemotherapy, not the cancer. Based on my research, cancer is easily curable and the people who own big pharma are only interested in money. I believe the medical profession is the biggest cause of death in the Western world, not because doctors are bad people, but because the system is controlled. I no longer fear cancer because I know how easy it is to cure. The sleeping giant is rising. Soon the truth will become widespread, and the people who own the system can expect a very long time behind bars.

Rehan November 30, 2013

Another question, do home remedies counts for cancer?


Rehan November 30, 2013

Do any authentic alternate cancer treatment available till date?

Lindi November 29, 2013

Oh Please not another alt pusher trying to sell a book of the backs of desperate and vulnerable cancer patients, you people really have no shame do you, you didnt cure your breast cancer by a EMEM frequency generator , or by useing natural therapies to “Boost” your immune system, and your breast cancer certainly WASNT caused by a root canal tooth, do you know anything about the biology of cancer????? i suggest doing some proper research into the history of cancer and the biology of this disease (Its free from reptuable cancer organisations BTW no books to sell) 1- there is no “cure” for breast cancer there are treatments that will hopefully keep your cancer at bay , breast cancer can come back at anytime 5/10/20 yrs later the same cancer on path report ,the ONLY time you will know if you are cured of breast cancer is when you grow old and die of something else!!, furthermore you can “Boost ” the immune system as much as you like it wont stop or cure a cancer , The Immune system DOES NOT reconise cancer cells, cancer cells are your own body cells multiplying out of control the immune system only reconises bacteria and viruses for goodness sake why the heck do you think scientists are trying to develope vacines to TRAIN the Immune system to reconise cancer cells jeeeessseee , please stop being so gullable people lots of people out there makeing a very good liveing out of all this twaddle and nonsence , some of you people really need to wise up and get yourselves EDUCATED. , What utter Piffle!!!!!!!!

celia November 10, 2013

When enough people in the world realise cancer has become big business. We will find a cure.

celia November 9, 2013

Yes Rex your right drugs companies want to make shed loads of money from this terrible illness. But you should research the latest treatment for prostate cancer. It involves turmeric .. And it’s being used by the medical profession so don’t give up believing that cures will be found in the garden or cupboard .


Rex Springfield November 9, 2013

How can natural treatment or Natural FOODS damage our body??? Eat any kind of fruits and you’ll even live longer and healthy everyday. I’ve contributed lots of money for Cancer Research UK in the past just to realize that they’ve never able to produce a cure for cancer which you can supposedly get from your garden for FREE. Of course they don’t want you to know as they can’t make money from it. They want you to get a conventional treatment of Chemo, radio, surgery and pay big sums just to die few years later.

Frank Knight. October 30, 2013

My last ever word on this as I know i won’t get far.

Frank Knight. October 30, 2013

I should have started with The cancer industry (drug companies).

Frank Knight. October 30, 2013

Well you may not want a CURE when TREATMENT is far more for quacks how barbaric is it to burn people? Bring on the leaches. Quoting the American Cancer Society I found funny.

Mark October 16, 2013

Take your time to look at life for what it really is around you if you wish to seek a breakthrough.
Lemon juice could never be considered a cure.
It is acidic and full of sugar, exactly what a cancer cell needs to thrive.
Stop looking to killing cancer and start looking to helping it grow, paradoxically, look to preventing normal cells from growth without cancer causing “ingredients” and killing them slowly, and look away from helping them live.
Your blinding yourselves by mechanisms. While it is right to look to these mechanisms, you have to look to cancer for what it really is. Why and how philosophically. In the same way is it right for us to call every person “different” from us, when we are abiding by the same mechanisms in a different way?, You may be ecstatic over a new car and show this yourself in your speech, body language and thoughts, while I may become “my version” of ecstatic through a different means of the same mechanisms. Which is why there are numerous amounts of different cancers. Only curing one would only singularly cure that one and while that may be beneficial to treating others with the secrets of it’s mechanism. It will never be obtained if you chase two rabbits for 10 days with 20 different tools. You will always go hungry.
Have patience, look to the trees, the grass and most importantly yourself.
Look to life and death and you will find your cure.
Can’t you see that initially, cancer wants to die?,

Lindi October 3, 2013

Fortunately having myself lived with an aggressive type of breast cancer for over 6 yrs i’m still alive and kicking thanks to cancer research and conventional cancer treatments that have been proven to work, i also know many people up and down the UK with secondary breast cancer, and many are still alive some 12 or more yrs later , its a nonsense that anyone who has an aggressive cancer only lasts a few months after treatment, getting the right treatments for each individuals cancer and finding the ones which work for them can keep even secondary cancer at bay for many yrs, Conventional medicine doesn’t dismiss “Natural” Medicine when it has been Proven to work, i.e Aspirin comes from the bark of a willow tree, Taxotere a type of chemo comes from the Yew Tree, these are just small 2 examples, however,so called “Alternative” cancer treatments touted on the internet with nothing more to offer than Anecdotes in You-Tube videos and on dubious alternative cancer curing treatment websites DO NOT work, they have no clinical scientific evidence to back them up , they have not been tested in robust clinical trials to prove either efficiency or safety and they offer no more than False Hope to a Cancer Patient which is utterly cruel , when someone has been told they have no more treatment options left, it is cruel for these snake oil salesmen to prey on those vulnerable cancer patients, it robs them of their time, which would be better spent with their families , Its robs them of their savings and in some cases their homes, There really is No such thing as Alternative Medicine, There are treatments that Work and there are treatments that Don’t, When a Treatment has been Proven to work, it is called MEDICINE, therefore is No Longer Alternative.

celia October 2, 2013

Well said Nicholas.
I don’t know of anyone who has survived aggressive cancer. Some have gained a few months after having chemo, but the treatment made them so ill.
A thought on natural medicine. The treatment for gout stems from the Egyptians and dates back five thousand years.
A great many herbs spices and berries used by people in the past have found their way into modern medicine!

Nicholas Hall October 1, 2013

When you are told that you have three months to live, and conventional treatment, may extend your life by a month or so,if you are prepared to spend your time being sick from the chemo, and there is NO hope of it curing you. Then who the hell are any of you to criticise anyone trying something different. Mind over matter is a very strong healer and if you believe in the herbal go for it. I have seen too many people go down the conventional treatment, with exactly the same results, death, normally to the month predicted. I also know people who have refused conventional treatment and are still alive years later, and that is ad fact! Do NOT try to force people to conform to conventional medicine if they decide not to ,it is their choice not yours. As such why put up such a case to go down the conventional medical line? Afraid that some of this has a positive result as opposed to chemo that will poison your body.

Penny September 27, 2013

Quackery flourishes when conventional treatments are unpleasant and only partially effective.

Before the advent of antibiotics there were “alternative” treatments for diseases such syphilis and TB. Effective modern treatments for these formerly serious diseases have driven the VD and TB quacks away.

Sadly, even with modern treatment cancers can not always be cured (although some cancers are cured and others can be kept at bay for years), so there are frightened and desperate people out there for cancer quacks to exploit. It is good that cancer charities are mobilising information to fight exploitation of the vulnerable.

Lindi September 13, 2013

Alternative Therapies make more money in a year than Cancer Research does , I find that staggering!! ,especially when alternative therapies don’t have a hope in hell of working let alone curing anything. It’s quite shocking really just how many cancer patients believe in all this ALT rubbish, which sadly seems particularly abundant online, of course Alt is often aimed at the vulnerable, frightened and often desperate cancer patients ,so its very big business, I find it quite disgraceful having known quite a few friends with cancer turn to alternative therapies because they have been brainwashed with all this silly nonsense online, I think much more needs to be done to make people much more aware of all the Hukum out there sadly surrounding this disease ,and that those websites that continue to promote this kind of nonsense to cancer patient’s are brought to task.
Thanks CRUK, for publishing this very good artical. .

Daveollie September 13, 2013

Celia, these cancer treatments that damage peoples bodies, have gotton rid of hodgkins lymphoma for me and saved my life, to my family, the drug companies deserve to make a lot of money because they are heroes to millions of survivors. Remember they will only make their millions if they are selling something that can work, maybe not for everybody, but it certainly has for me x x

Ruth September 13, 2013

I guess CRUK and Kat Arney feel they have to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but it still depressing how this blog always assumes people are stupid, and cannot distinguish between peer reviewed scientific articles which are available on the internet, and rubbish.

celia September 13, 2013

Cancer treatments make massive amounts of money for the drugs companies, These drugs damage peoples bodies and don’t always cure them. We need to be told what is causing cancer so we can help ourselves to stay healthy.
And we need cures not treatments.