Fact Check: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Is NOT Proven To Cure Cancer

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Is NOT Proven To Cure Cancer Not A Cure

Does hyperbaric oxygen therapy cure cancer? No, that's not true: The Food and Drug Administration has not approved such therapy as a cancer treatment. In fact, the agency has been refuting this claim for over a decade.

The claim reappeared in a post (archived here) on Instagram on February 24, 2024. The caption began:

Dis-ease is a illusion and once you realize it you're able to buy back your freedom💣

A banner placed above the video continued:

This is WHY they don't want us to

know the REAL power with using a

Hyperbaric Chamber ‼️😳

This is what it looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-02-28 at 12.49.01 PM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Wed Feb 28 19:49:01 2024 UTC)

The video showed a fragment of a conversation between two people videotaped in what appeared to be a podcast studio. It started with the female host recalling that once she observed people leaving breakfast to lie in "oxygen chambers." Then, a male guest in a yellow hat said:

MAN: ... chambers are called, it's called ozone therapy. Hyperbaric chamber ...

WOMAN: Yes, that's exactly ...

MAN: ... heals cancer.

The man went on to tell a story about an unnamed "Mexican doctor in Mexico" who allegedly puts people in those chambers to heal cancer, but did not cite any source.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy chambers are real devices prescribed for some specific medical conditions (archived here) such as decompression sickness. Yet, that doesn't make them a cure-it-all machine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website (archived here) explicitly warns:

If you are considering the use of a HBOT [hyperbaric oxygen therapy] device for yourself or a loved one, be aware that some claims of what it can do are unproven. For example, HBOT devices are not proven to cure cancer ...

The claim goes back to at least 2013 when the FDA sent a letter (archived here) to Louisiana officials to raise awareness among medical professionals about the unauthorized use of the said chambers. In part, it said:

The FDA ... is concerned that patients treated with HBOT for non-cleared conditions, especially in place of treatment options with established safety and effectiveness, may experience a lack of improvement or worsening of their existing condition(s). Patients may not be aware that the safety and effectiveness of HBOT has not been established for use in these condition(s).

An earlier variation of this claim stating that "oxygen can kill cancer" could be found in a 2010 Johns Hopkins article (archived here) describing and debunking email scams that falsely attributed hoaxes to reputable medical institutions.

Over the next 15 years, the relationship between hyperbaric oxygen therapy and cancer cells was discussed in many scientific papers (archived here), but Lead Stories found no peer-reviewed scholarship that has taken it as far as claiming that it can treat all types of cancer on its own.

As of this writing, MedlinePlus (archived here), which is an information service of the National Library of Medicine, writes that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may help recovery after radiation injuries, including the ones that may occur after cancer treatments, but it says nothing about the purported ability to cure cancer.

The National Institute of Cancer (archived here) also writes that hyperbaric oxygen chambers do not cure cancers on their own but might help to kill cancer cells with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

The video that is the focus of this fact check was first streamed on YouTube (archived here) on August 5, 2023 (the reused fragment begins at the 24:17 mark). The blog was hosted by Latasha Kebe, also known as Tasha K.

Tasha K.'s guest in the episode discussing cancer was introduced as "Yahki Awakened" in the title of the segment. That is an (archived here).

His website describes (archived here) him as a "master herbalist," but does not provide any information on whether he ever had any formal medical training in the field of cancer to be qualified to discuss the matter from the scientific viewpoint. But what Yah'ki says about himself is that he found inspiration in "Dr. Sebi," a now-deceased herbalist who was not a real medical doctor and whose name has been used posthumously in numerous false claims about health debunked by Lead Stories here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about cancer can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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