Does stopping sugar intake completely, together with mixing lemons and hot water, and consuming coconut oil kill off cancer cells? And is the recipe proven to be "1,000 times better than chemotherapy" in curing cancer? No, none of this is true, according to medical and cancer experts who say that while there are benefits to a healthy diet pre- and post-cancer diagnosis, there is no known substitute for chemo and radiation therapy in providing medical hope to cancer patients.
The claim is found in a post (archived here) put on Facebook April 4, 2019. The post appears to be a copy of an image carrying a supposed remedy for cancer -- no matter the type. Above it is this text:
to anyone battling cancer , I'm all for natural
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Mon Sep 28 18:08:07 2020 UTC)
The full text in the post's picture reads:
Dr. Gupta says, No one must die of cancer except out of carelessness; (1). First step is to stop all sugar intake, without sugar in your body, cancer cell would die a natural death. (2). Second step is to blend a whole lemon fruit with a cup of hot water and drink it for about 1-3 months first thing before food and cancer would disappear, research by Maryland College of Medicine says, it's 1000 times better than chemotherapy. (3). Third step is to drink 3 spoonfuls of organic coconut oil, morning and night and cancer would disappear."
There is no reference to who is in the picture -- whether that is in fact "Dr. Gupta" -- no information on whom "Dr. Gupta" is, no indication where the text and picture came from, or how old they are. Simply put, this is unsubstantiated information and bad medical advice -- particularly for those in dire need of cancer treatment.
With sugars, it's a claim that has been around for about a decade, according to reports.
Myth: People who have cancer shouldn't eat sugar, since it can cause cancer to grow faster.
Fact: More research is needed to understand the relationship between sugar in the diet and cancer. All kinds of cells, including cancer cells, depend on blood sugar (glucose) for energy. But giving more sugar to cancer cells doesn't make them grow faster. Likewise, depriving cancer cells of sugar doesn't make them grow more slowly.
This misconception may be based in part on a misunderstanding of positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which use a small amount of radioactive tracer -- typically a form of glucose. All tissues in your body absorb some of this tracer, but tissues that are using more energy -- including cancer cells -- absorb greater amounts. For this reason, some people have concluded that cancer cells grow faster on sugar. But this isn't true.
On lemons and hot water, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences is aware of the "myth" about lemons and cautions in a statement on its site under the Medical Myths section:
Do Lemons and Lemon Juice Cure Cancer?
There is a popular myth about lemons and lemon juice being able to cure cancer that is making the rounds of the internet. They myth is so popular even Snopes.com responded, stating that the email message is a mixture of true and false information.
There is some truth involved in the creation of this myth, based on a few recent studies. These studies indicate that citrus fruits, including lemons, contains compounds that may be beneficial in preventing or combating some types of cancer.
However, the myth significantly exaggerates the potential of lemons and lemon juice as a cancer remedy. The beneficial compounds in lemon juice have shown promise in recent studies, but the levels found in foods may only enhance the body's ability to fight off cancer. In the end, there is no proven scientific replacement for radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
If you are diagnosed with any type of cancer, "you need to continue to eat a healthy diet," states Michelle Morgan, Clinical Dietician. Don't be taken in with fad diets or "anti-cancer" food claims. Follow the treatment recommendations from your cancer treatment team. And if you are cancer free, then eating healthy foods may help reduce your chances of getting certain types of cancer in the future."
A Snopes article suggests that the claim has been around since at least 2011.
The National Center for Health Research put it this way:
Although lemons have health benefits, the claims that "lemons are a proven remedy against cancer of all types" and "lemons are 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy" are certainly false. Furthermore, while a few studies have looked into the anti-carcinogenic properties of modified citrus pectin and limonoids and found some promising results, not enough research has been done to prove its effects on humans. It's possible that in the future, after more research, a medicine will be developed to prevent or fight cancer using these ingredients; if so, it will probably be in much higher concentrations than found in nature.
MCP and limonoids are not unique to lemons; they are found in all citrus fruits, which have many known health benefits and should be part of any healthy diet."
And on ingesting coconut oil as the post describes, there are preliminary studies that suggest "virgin coconut oil" can help with the quality of life of people with certain types of cancer during chemotherapy, as well as some preliminary studies on evidence that coconut oil inhibits growth of other types of cancers.
However, as a cure for all cancers, there is no medical evidence to back this up.
The full claim -- sugars, lemon and water, and coconut oil -- was also debunked here in April 2019, when it made its way to Facebook -- on a page that has since been deleted. Even though that page was deleted, it lives on, with the above post already receiving at least 36,000 shares on Facebook.
The post also attributes information to Maryland College of Medicine, which does not exist. In case the Facebook poster mixed it up with the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland, we have left a message with a spokeswoman there. We will update with information when we hear back.