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No, hot lemon water doesn’t kill cancer cells

“Pieces of lemon in hot water,” reads the headline of a Facebook post circulating in Nigeria. 

The post claims hot lemon water kills cancer cells. It was published in July 2019 and has been shared more than 1, 600 times.

It reads: “‘Lemon slices in a glass of hot water can save you for the rest of your life,’ says Professor Chen Horin, chief executive of the Beijing Military Hospital… Hot lemons can once again release an anti-cancer drug .”

The post goes on to explain how to prepare the hot lemon water. It claims “treatment with this extract will only destroy the malignant cells and will not affect healthy cells” and that “acids and mono-carboxylic acid in lemon juice can regulate hypertension and protect narrow arteries, adjust blood circulation and reduce blood clotting”. 


Old viral message resurfaces

This isn’t the first time this message has made the rounds. Africa Check debunked a similar claim on Facebook in April 2019, rating it false.

Fact-checking sites Hoaxslayer and Snopes also found the claim to be false.

Africa Check found no academic mention, profile pages, listings or news clippings of a “Professor Horin”.

‘Claim is untrue’

Africa Check asked Dr Bidemi Akinlade from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria’s radiotherapy department to review the claims in the Facebook post.

She said: “I would not recommend hot lemon to a cancer patient. People post all sorts of cancer cures online; a significant number of them have not been scientifically proven. In my opinion, I don’t believe hot lemon or hot lemon juice kill cancer cells or tumour. The claims are untrue.”

‘No known link to hypertension or reduced clotting’

Dr Kenneth Nwankwo from the department of radiation medicine at University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital said he hadn’t come across any scientific study showing that the acids in lemon juice regulated hypertension.

“I am hearing these claims for the first time. I don’t understand how the acids in lemon water juice could regulate hypertension, protect narrow arteries, adjust blood circulation and reduce blood clotting. I would not advise anyone to try this.” 

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