So You've Heard About a Miracle Cancer Cure, Have You?

Written By Aileen Trang
Image of a pill bottle with Miracle Cure written on it
Photo by US Food and Drug Administration via flickr Creative Commons

"Cure your cancer without surgery, chemo or radiation!" "Cure cancer at home, fast and cheap without help from medical experts!" "Cure cancer with these natural products and have no side effects!"

My family friend Ben was showing me ads he found online while looking for information about his cancer. Excited by the promise of a cure with little-to-no side effects, he asked me if these solutions were real. It took every ounce of control in my body not to grab his printouts and throw them out the window.

Like most people diagnosed with cancer, Ben is terrified. He's desperate for a cure and willing to do anything. In other words, he’s very vulnerable. So nothing - NOTHING - gets my blood boiling more than these so-called "miracle cures" sold by smart, eloquent businesspeople who are turning a profit off of your fears.

There are far too many examples of predatory "miracle cures" for cancer. The US Food and Drug Administration has a list of 187 fake "cancer cures", and I’m sure this is just the start. Here are just two “amazing cures” that turned out to be absolutely false:

  • Christine Daniel conned dozens of families out of nearly $1.3 million with her herbal "late-stage cancer cure". Some patients died because she convinced them to skip chemotherapy and radiation treatments that may have cured them from their disease.
  • More recently, Australian food and wellness blogger Belle Gibson admitted to faking terminal brain cancer, which she claimed was "cured" with a veggie-based diet. She used her incredible-but-completely-fictitious story to sell cookbooks and apps that promoted a vegetarian diet as a cure for cancer. To make matters worse, she claimed that proceeds were donated to 5 charities, yet none of these charities had a single record of her donations.

I wouldn't trust my stylist to install a new electrical outlet in my home, nor would I ask my electrician to wax my eyebrows. I don’t care how many YouTube videos they may have seen, they don't have the proper training or work experience needed to do the job. So why trust medical advice coming from a businessperson, especially when they're getting rich from selling this "cure"?

Don't get me wrong. When it comes to any medical treatment, I support a patient’s right to choose what’s best for them. But I whole-heartedly beg you to do your research before taking any treatment. Read up on your treatment, check if the information is supported by research, talk to your medical team (get a second opinion if you want it), and be sure you understand your options before making a final decision. 

Being diagnosed with cancer can turn your world upside down and, unfortunately, there are people who use that as an opportunity to make money. The best way to protect yourself is to be curious and ask lots of questions, like my friend Ben.


For more tips on identifying cancer treatment fraud, check out: