VERA FILES FACT CHECK: FB post makes multiple FALSE claims on food that ‘kill’ cancer

A lengthy post by local Facebook (FB) page Amazing Zynergia For Natural Health that claims to “educate people on alternative and natural healing” has made untrue claims, saying cancer is “not a disease” and that certain food can kill or remove cancer cells from the body.

The false post was published on March 27, 2019, but continues to gain traction over a year later.

FALSE: Amazing Zynergia for Natural Health FB post about certain food that can kill cancer cells

Among the sources cited in the post is a certain “Dr. Gupta” who allegedly said “no one must die from cancer except out of carelessness.” However, a cursory search for the name and the quote only brought back results carrying the same post that the FB page published.

The FB post also mentioned some universities, such as the “Maryland College of Medicine,” which it said published a study that showed drinking water for three months blended with a whole lemon fruit will make cancer disappear.

There is no Maryland College of Medicine, but there is a University of Maryland School of Medicine in the United States. The school has published no such research about lemons and cancer.

A certain “Dr. Guruprasad Reddy B V” from “Osh State Medical University” in Moscow, Russia is also mentioned, attributing to him a long list of tips supposedly to prevent cancer.

There is no such institution in Russia; it is actually in Kyrgyzstan. There are again no reliable reports, based on a cursory search, proving the doctor exists or that he gave the cancer prevention tips enumerated in the post.

VERA Files Fact Check interviewed oncologist Necy Juat from the Philippine Society of Medical Oncology (PSMO), an organization of board-certified cancer specialists in the country, to determine the veracity of the tips given in the post. We narrowed it down to five main claims.

Claim

Rating

Stopping sugar intake will cause cancer cell death

FALSE

In an email interview, Juat answered “no” to whether stopping sugar intake can lead to death of cancer cells.

She also said consumption of the food item is not related to the possibility of getting cancer or the worsening of a cancer diagnosis. “Sugar or glucose is the basic energy source of a cell,” she said.

Even though cancer cells demand higher glucose than normal cells, the National Cancer Institute of the United States (cancer.gov) backs up Juat’s answer, stating that “no studies have shown that eating sugar will make your cancer worse or that, if you stop eating sugar, your cancer will shrink or disappear.”

Claim

Rating

Hot lemon water can kill cancer cells and control tumor growth

FALSE

Juat said drinking hot lemon water “does not'' affect cancer, and neither does it control tumor growth.

According to the United States’ National Academy of Sciences, the hope that lemons could help treat cancer is mostly based on a molecule called limonene, found in the oils of lemon peels and other citrus fruits. The molecule has been studied “to see if it can help treat cancer,” but currently, there has been “no consistent evidence that people with cancer who consume limonene get better or are more likely to be cured.”

Additionally, no reputable medical studies have reported that “lemons are 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy” and that consumption of the fruit can kill cancer cells, according to a fact-check article by Snopes from 2011, which also rated the claim as false.

An earlier version of this claim about lemons was credited to Baltimore’s Health Sciences Institute which, Snopes said, has “denied any connection” to the claim.

Claim

Rating

Drinking coconut oil will cause cancer to “disappear”

FALSE

While diet can influence the risk of developing cancer, there is “little evidence that special foods can be used to cure existing cancers,” according to the Department of Health & Human Services of the state government of Victoria, Australia.

Juat backs up this claim in saying that coconut oil cannot cause cancer cells to disappear. She added that there are no scientifically proven ways that coconut oil can cure cancer.

A 2014 study from the School of Medical Science of Universiti Sains Malaysia, however, noted that the intake of virgin coconut oil during chemotherapy was found to help with improved quality of life and functional status of breast cancer patients, as well as reduce the symptoms related to side effects of chemotherapy.

Claim

Rating

Eating "chicken backside" can increase the chance of stomach cancer

FALSE

Juat said there is “zero” probability that eating the backside of a chicken can increase the chance of stomach cancer.

According to the patient information website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, an increased risk of stomach cancer is seen in people who regularly smoke tobacco and drink a lot of alcohol.

Diets that have “large amounts of smoked foods, salted fish and meat, and pickled vegetables,” may also increase stomach cancer risks, according to the American Cancer Society, a nonprofit organization that invests in cancer research and promotes cancer education, detection and treatment. But it did not single out eating the backside of chickens.

Claim

Rating

Drinking 10 glasses of water a day can treat bladder cancer

FALSE

Not true. Juat told VERA Files that water is “not treatment for bladder cancer.”

“But adequate water intake is needed with cisplatin-based chemotherapy," she added, referring to a type of chemotherapy used to treat certain types of ovarian, bladder and testicular cancer.

Petros Grivas, an oncologist from the U.S.-based Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center, has advised the public, however, to drink water and stay properly hydrated to prevent developing bladder cancer.

“Drinking water may dilute harmful substances in your urine and flush them out of your bladder faster. Experts haven’t found conclusive evidence showing drinking water reduces bladder cancer risk, but it may help,” Grivas was quoted saying in a March 2015 article of the clinic on cancer care.

Oncologist’s tips to prevent getting cancer

Juat listed down food and activities that may help prevent cancer, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet with more vegetables and less meat. She also said smoking can increase chances of cancer.

“Sometimes it's really just genetic and screening helps to catch it early during the treatable stage,” she told VERA Files.

Amazing Zynergia For Natural Health copied portions of its FB post word-for-word from other FB posts that have circulated as early as 2018 and debunked by multiple fact-checkers around the world.

The difference between the post and its earlier versions is that Amazing Zynergia For Natural Health claims to offer “free health forum and free consultation.” The page also sells dietary supplements. VERA Files also found a similar post that was uploaded by the FB page Zynergia - Langkaan Dasmariñas in 2019.

It continues to gain traction amid findings that people with certain underlying medical conditions, including cancer, are more susceptible to contracting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than those without.

In the Philippines, cancer is the third leading cause of death, according to the Health Department’s Cancer Control Program.

Amazing Zynergia For Natural Health’s false post was shared more than 70,000 times, and has received 12,000 reactions and over 1,200 comments. The page was created on Nov. 12, 2016, and was initially named Real Chlorevita before it was changed four more times.


(Editor's Note: VERA Files has partnered with Facebook to fight the spread of disinformation. Find out more about this partnership and our methodology.)

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