This story was first published on March 29th, 2011
Message purporting to be from the Institute of Health Sciences in Baltimore claims that lemon is a “miraculous product” that can kill cancer cells, is 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy, and is “a proven remedy against cancers of all types”.
Scientific studies indicate that citrus (including lemon) contains compounds that may indeed be beneficial in preventing or combating some types of cancer. However, this message significantly exaggerates the potential of lemon as a cancer remedy, contains false and misleading information, and does not originate from a credible medical or scientific entity. The message did not originate from the Institute of Health Sciences as claimed.
Subject: FW: Lemon – kills Cancer Cells
The surprising benefits of lemon!
Institute of Health Sciences, 819 N. L.L.C. Charles Street Baltimore , MD 1201.
This is the latest in medicine, effective for cancer!
Read carefully & you be the judge.
Lemon (Citrus) is a miraculous product to kill cancer cells. It is 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy.
Why do we not know about that? Because there are laboratories interested in making a synthetic version that will bring them huge profits. You can now help a friend in need by letting him/her know that lemon juice is beneficial in preventing the disease. Its taste is pleasant and it does not produce the horrific effects of chemotherapy. How many people will die while this closely guarded secret is kept, so as not to jeopardize the beneficial multimillionaires large corporations? As you know, the lemon tree is known for its varieties of lemons and limes. You can eat the fruit in different ways: you can eat the pulp, juice press, prepare drinks, sorbets, pastries, etc… It is credited with many virtues, but the most interesting is the effect it produces on cysts and tumors. This plant is a proven remedy against cancers of all types. Some say it is very useful in all variants of cancer. It is considered also as an anti microbial spectrum against bacterial infections and fungi, effective against internal parasites and worms, it regulates blood pressure which is too high and an antidepressant, combats stress and nervous disorders.
The source of this information is fascinating: it comes from one of the largest drug manufacturers in the world, says that after more than 20 laboratory tests since 1970, the extracts revealed that: It destroys the malignant cells in 12 cancers, including colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreas … The compounds of this tree showed 10,000 times better than the product Adriamycin, a drug normally used chemotherapeutic in the world, slowing the growth of cancer cells. And what is even more astonishing: this type of therapy with lemon extract only destroys malignant cancer cells and it does not affect healthy cells.
Institute of Health Sciences, 819 N. L.L.C. Cause Street, Baltimore, MD1201
This widely circulated message, which purports to be from the Institute of Health Sciences in Baltimore, details the “surprising benefits of lemon” as a cancer fighting agent. The message claims that lemon kills cancer cells and is 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy. It further claims that lemon is a remedy for all types of cancer.
Legitimate scientific studies have shown that compounds in citrus may be beneficial in combating certain types of cancer. Thus, the message may have a grain of truth. However, it is nonetheless very misleading and inaccurate. Moreover, the information does not come from a credible scientific source.
As discussed in greater detail below, studies have indicated that citrus limonoids do have potential as anti-cancer agents. However, I could find no medical studies that validate the claim that lemon is “10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy”. Nor do any credible scientific reports indicate that lemon is a “proven remedy against cancers of all types”.
Moreover, the message did not originate from the Health Sciences Institute of Baltimore (also identified on its website as the “Institute of Health Sciences”) as claimed. A spokesperson for the Health Sciences Institute has denied any involvement, noting in a recent email:
The email and information in question did not come from the Health Sciences Institute. Whoever started this scam email did use some of our published material – which had nothing to do with lemons in any way – and inserted the information about lemons. It is erroneous and has caused us a great deal of trouble. However, most troubling is that it is giving false or un-tested medical advice to people suffering with cancer. Perhaps citrus fruits have some anti-cancer properties or perhaps they don’t (I’m not qualified to speak on that), but the one thing I know for certain is the provided “source” of this information – the Health Sciences Institute – did NOT publish this information. We had nothing to do with this email or the information it contains.
Thus, the message contains unproven, unsupported and significantly exaggerated claims about lemon as a cancer remedy and should not be considered a valid scientific report on the subject.
That said, a number of studies have indicated that compounds found in citrus (including lemon) may be effective as anti-cancer agents, at least for certain types of cancer. A December 2004 Science Daily article reports:
Research by Texas Agriculture Experiment Station scientists has shown that citrus compounds called limonoids targeted and stopped neuroblastoma cells in the lab. They now hope to learn the reasons for the stop-action behavior and eventually try the citrus concoction in humans. [……]
Harris explained that flavonoids and limonoids – nutrient-packed pigments that give color and taste to fruit – may work against cancer in any of three ways: prevent it from forming, slow the growth of existing cancer, or kill cancer cells.
“The limonoids, which differ structurally from flavonoids, seem to do all three,” he said of tests in his lab by one of Patil’s graduate students, Shibu Poulose, who also worked in Harris’ College Station lab. Their work emphasized the compounds’ ability to kill existing the neuroblastoma cells with the rationale that if the method and time limonoids take to obliterate the cancer could be found, perhaps scientists could exploit it to help cure the disease.
A May 2000 report about the potential of citrus limonoids as anticancer agents explains:
The experimental results describe above indicate that citrus limonoids may provide substantial anticancer actions. The compounds have been shown to be free of toxic effects in animal models so potential exists for use of limonoids against human cancer in either the natural fruit , in citrus fortified with limonoids, or in purified forms of specific limonoids . Although the initial studies are very promising , they have been conducted primarily with invitrocell culture and animal models. Thus , research is needed to determine whether the limonoids may be useful in preventing or treating cancer in humans .
And a report on the medicinal use of citrus published on the University of Florida EDIS website notes:
Citrus flavonoids have potential antioxidant (prevents aging), anti-cancer, antiviral, anti-inflammatory activities, effects on capillarity, and cholesterol-lowering ability. The principal carotenoids in pink grapefruit are lycopene and beta-carotene. Lycopene-containing fruits and vegetables have been shown to contribute to a significant reduction in prostate and mammary cancer risk. Recent studies have further shown that limonoids inhibit the development of cancer in laboratory animals and in human breast cancer cells as well as reducing cholesterol. Researchers have also suggested that, if ingested, limonoids may not be absorbed in the large intestine, and therefore could be distributed throughout the body, with beneficial effects.
So, in short, scientific studies indicate compounds in citrus, including lemon, have real potential as anti-cancer agents. However, it is not yet clear exactly how effective citrus will ultimately prove to be in preventing or fighting against cancer in humans. Certainly, it is premature and inaccurate to claim that lemon is a “proven remedy against cancers of all types.” Nor, at this point, can it be said that lemon is a viable alternative to traditional treatments such as chemotherapy. But lemon, like other kinds of citrus is likely to be a healthy addition to your diet and may even reduce the risk of cancer. However, these findings do not give validity to the exaggerated and unsupported claims made in this circulated health report. To be useful, health advice needs to be valid, accurate, and be supported by credible medical sources. Sending on spurious health information is unlikely to be beneficial.