Myth 5- Cancer Is A Fungus...Baking Soda Can Cure It!
This ‘theory’ comes from the not-very-observant observation that “cancer is always white”.
One obvious problem with this idea – apart from the fact that cancer cells are clearly not fungal in origin – is that cancer isn’t always white. Some tumours are. But some aren’t. Ask any pathologist or cancer surgeon, or have a look on Google Image search (but maybe not after lunch…).
Proponents of this theory say that cancer is caused by infection by the fungus candida, and that tumours are actually the body’s attempt at protecting itself from this infection.
But there’s no evidence to show that this is true (and plenty of evidence – going back as far as 1902– that it starts from faults our own cells).
Furthermore, plenty of perfectly healthy people can be infected with candida – it’s part of the very normal array of microbes that live in (and on) all of us. Usually our immune system keeps candida in check, but infections can get more serious in people with compromised immune systems, such as those who are HIV-positive.
The ‘simple solution’ is apparently to inject tumours with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). This isn’t even the treatment used to treat proven fungal infections, let alone cancer. On the contrary, there’s good evidence that high doses of sodium bicarbonate can lead to serious – even fatal – consequences.
Some studies suggest that sodium bicarbonate can affect cancers transplanted into mice or cells grown in the lab, by neutralising the acidity in the micro environment immediately around a tumour. And researchers in the US are running a small clinical trial investigating whether sodium bicarbonate capsules can help to reduce cancer pain and to find the maximum dose that can be tolerated, rather than testing whether it has any effect on tumours.
As far as we are aware, there have been no published clinical trials of sodium bicarbonate as a treatment for cancer.
It’s also worth pointing out that it’s not clear whether it’s possible to give doses of sodium bicarbonate that can achieve any kind of meaningful effect on cancer in humans, although it’s something that researchers are investigating.
Because the body strongly resists attempts to change its pH, usually by getting rid of bicarbonate through the kidneys, there’s a risk that doses large enough to significantly affect the pH around a tumour might cause a serious condition known as alkalosis.
One estimate suggests that a dose of around 12 grams of baking soda per day (based on a 65 kg adult) would only be able to counteract the acid produced by a tumour roughly one cubic millimetre in size. But doses of more than about 30 grams per day are likely to cause severe health problems – you do the maths.
Myth 6- Is There A Miracle Cure?
From cannabis to coffee anemas, the internet is awash with videos and personal anecdotes about ‘natural’ ‘miracle’ cures for cancer.
But extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – YouTube videos and Facebook posts are emphatically not scientific evidence and aren’t the same as good-quality, peer-reviewed evidence.
In many cases it’s impossible to tell whether patients featured in such anecdotal sources have been ‘cured’ by any particular alternative treatment or not. We know nothing about their medical diagnosis, stage of disease or outlook, or even if they actually had cancer in the first place. For instance, we don’t know what other cancer treatments they had.
And we only hear about the success stories – what about the people who have tried it and have not survived? The dead can’t speak, and often people who make bold claims for ‘miracle’ cures only pick their best cases, without presenting the full picture.
This highlights the importance of publishing data from peer-reviewed, scientifically rigorous lab research and clinical trials. Firstly, because conducting proper clinical studies enables researchers to prove that a prospective cancer treatment is safe and effective. And secondly, because publishing these data allows doctors around the world to judge for themselves and use it for the benefit of their patients.
This is the standard to which all cancer treatments should be held.
That’s not to say the natural world isn’t a source of potential treatments, from aspirin (willow bark) to penicillin (mould). For example, the cancer drug taxol was first extracted from the bark and needles of the Pacific Yew tree.
But that’s a far cry from saying you should chew bark to combat a tumour. It’s an effective treatment because the active ingredient has been purified and tested in clinical trials. So we know that it’s safe and effective, and what dose to prescribe.
Of course people with cancer want to beat their disease by any means possible. And it’s completely understandable to be searching high and low for potential cures. But our advice is to be wary of anything labelled a ‘miracle cure’, especially if people are trying to sell it to you.