Fake cancer cures are on the rise & people are profiting

While the world focuses firmly on the toxic spread of anti-vaccine propaganda, fake cancer cures are sliding out of focus. Some media outlets are identifying those who promote snake oil cures as being the new anti-vaxxers. Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever for them to gain traction.

As a disease that’s emotionally devastating and difficult to reason with, cancer leaves sufferers searching for hope everywhere. In a tragic number of cases, fake cancer cures rob some people of their lives, while fattening the wallets of others.

Denouncing chemo as poison

Much of the rhetoric surrounding medical cancer treatments echoes anti-vaxxer statements. For example, chemotherapy is denounced as a poison with devastating consequences. As many of us are all too familiar with the side effects of chemo, it seems reasonable that a natural cure may sound more appealing.

Unfortunately, many of the fake cancer cures that are promoted in chemotherapy’s place have no evidence to support their use. This includes juicing the disease away, drinking turmeric milk, and taking cannabinoids. First of all, it’s worth noting that these substances will not cure cancer. Second, something can be natural and harmful at the same time. As the Swiss physician Paracelsus alluded to, the poison is in the dose. You can drink enough water and induce hyponatremia, so essentially everything has the potential to cause harm.

Fake cancer cures and social media

It may feel as though we’re always attributing modern problems to social media. Although sites such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are a force of good, they become dangerous in the wrong hands.

To parrot President Trump, social media is brimming with Fake News. It feels a little ludicrous pointing out that memes aren’t always true, but political campaigns act as an excellent demonstration of how people take them too seriously.

In some cases, memes may make vague statements that appear to be backed by studies. For example, they’ll claim that “Turmeric smoothies help 50% of people with cancer” and cite a study that appears relevant. However, upon reading the study further you may find that out of four people with cancer, two experienced a reduction in nausea. By digging further into the studies behind the social media posts, you step away from vague notions and get closer to the truth.

It’s also worth noting that many social media stars who tout fake cancer cures are telling bare-faced lies. A classic example is Belle Gibson, who claimed to cure her brain tumour using natural remedies. As it turned out, there was no brain tumour to begin with, but Belle did make a lot of money from her following.

Everyone is trying to sell something

Although some people are well-intentioned, many are trying to sell something. While they’re fast to denounce Big Pharma, they’re equally as quick to point you toward a supplement they’re touting.

With that in mind, natural remedies can have their place in the world of cancer treatment. Meditation reduces anxiety, aromatherapy promotes sleep, and acupuncture limits nausea. But as you explore them, always be wary of fake cancer cures and do your research beyond just reading a meme.

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About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.