Did anyone else receive the email, widely distributed throughout 2013, raving about the "surprising benefits of lemon" as a cancer fighting super food?
The message claimed that research from the Institute of Health Sciences in Baltimore had found that lemons are 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer.
Now I’m 100% committed to using nutrition and a healthy lifestyle as preventative strategies to guard against disease and chronic health conditions. I believe you are what you eat, and I think that following an anti-cancer diet is an important part of both minimizing the risk of cancer and helping your body heal from it.
So why did this email bother me? 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy? In treating cancer? It just seemed like such a wild claim, and maybe a dangerous one. Even with my strong belief in nutrition-based health and alternative treatments I don’t think I’d be happy at a loved one’s decision to treat her cancer entirely with citrus fruits.
There’s little doubt that adding lemons and lemon juice to your diet has huge health benefits. It’s packed with Vitamin C and many long term asthma sufferers swear by lemon juice as a natural remedy that helps control and reduce their symptoms.
However, the claim that lemons help fight and prevent cancer isn’t as clear-cut as the heavily circulated email claimed.
What puzzled me at first is that nutritional therapists seem pretty convinced that too much acidity in the body is a cause of cancer, and we tend to think of lemon as an acidic food.
However, it seems that while lemon enters the body as an acid, it ends up as alkaline residue after the body’s cells use it up, so there is certainly no need to avoid lemons in order to keep your body’s acidity low.
The question remains:
Do lemons prevent cancer?
Here’s what we do know:
The original message did NOT originate from the Health Sciences Institute of Baltimore as claimed. A spokesperson for the Institute has denied any involvement in the creation or distribution of the message, and it’s still not clear exactly where the message originated from.
The Hope For Cancer Institute is cautiously optimistic about the cancer-fighting properties of lemons, stating that:
“What is known is that specific compounds found in lemons (and other citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit) known as flavonoids and limonoids may either stop the formation and growth of cancer cells, or will kill them outright. These studies have mainly been conducted on animals and in laboratory conditions using human breast cancer cells.”
Lemons are acknowledged by many health professionals and nutritionists to have various health benefits, including antibacterial and antiviral properties. They’re believed to aid digestion, regulate blood pressure and help reduce anxiety.
Lemons contain Vitamin C and other antioxidants, which help to mop up harmful free radicals and boost the immune system, protecting against many diseases and general ill health.
Lemon jazzes up water, giving a real kick of taste and encouraging us to dink more of it.
Homemade lemonade is delicious.
I’ll still be drinking lemon water in large quantities, and ordering it with almost every restaurant meal I consume.
I’ll still follow a well-balanced diet full of cancer-fighting foods, including lemon.
If myself or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer I will follow my doctor’s advice and combine a healthy anti-cancer lifestyle with other well-researched and effective treatment options, drawn from both conventional and natural medicine.
Do lemons help prevent cancer? As part of a healthy anti-cancer nutritional plan, probably. Are they 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy at treating it? Based on current evidence, I'm not buying it.