Friday, September 28, 2012

Soursop and Cancer Cures

Claim: Soursop can cure 12 different cancers and is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy.

This is Soursop, otherwise known as Graviola fruit (Annona muricata).


It has been used for many years as an herbal medicine. It is native to Central and South America as well as the Caribbean and is also grown in parts of Asia.

A number of sites have articles all detailing the same information with slight variances.

For example: http://aoand.com/profiles/blogs/graviola-tree-10-000-times-stronger-killer-of-cancer-than-chemo and http://www.jamaicans.com/blog/?p=347

The claims commonly ascribed to this fruit are (copied from claim supporter site):

*Attacks cancer safely and effectively with an all-natural therapy that does not cause extreme nausea, weight loss and hair loss
* Protect your immune system and avoid deadly infections
* Feel stronger and healthier throughout the course of the treatment
* Boost your energy and improve your outlook on life
* Effectively target and kill malignant cells in 12 types of cancer, including colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreatic cancer
* The tree compounds proved to be up to 10,000 times stronger in slowing the growth of cancer cells than Adriamycin, a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug!
* What’s more, unlike chemotherapy, the compound extracted from the Graviola tree selectively hunts down and kills only cancer cells. It does not harm healthy cells!

After a fairly extensive search I only found 1, peer-reviewed, scientific article describing the benefits of Graviola extract (which is not the same as raw fruit). You can read it the abstract here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21767082

In the article it says that the extract "significantly downregulated EGFR gene expression and inhibited the growth of BC cells and xenografts." EGRF is a gene commonly found in breast cancer. The dosage of the extract was 200mg/kg which in an average human female equates to 6.4 grams per day for 5 weeks.  However, the study was only done in mice and so the therapeutic equivalent could be much higher.

Further claims of feeling stronger, energy boosts, improved outlook on life are all things that a simple can of Coke can provide or even being outside in the sunlight. They're also claims that are hard to show definitively came from the fruit since they're all subjective and can be caused by any number of everyday things.

The dubious claim that it is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy is one hard to substantiate. Even if it were 10,000 times more effective than Adriamycin (which is actually an anti-biotic used in cancer treatment) it is still only more effective than a single drug which is used in a limited number of cancers. Many people have taken the information to mean that it is more effective than all chemo agents against many cancers.

It is also purported that since Graviola comes from a natural source it is better for you than chemotherapy which is an evil man-made poison. However, Adriamycin (doxorubicin) and many other chemo agents and other drugs are derived from natural sources. Adriamycin comes from a bacteria, Taxol and Taxotere both come from the bark of the Taxus brevifolia tree, Thiopurine drugs are derived from Purine, an organic compound found in our DNA, the entire Anthracyclines and Camptothecins classes of drug come from natural sources like plants and fungi.

Another problem with the "Soursop cure" is that there are no verifiable third-party sources to be found in any of the pro-Soursop articles I have read. While they list groups like the Catholic University of South Korea and the Journal of Natural Products, other than the single article I mentioned above, none of these sources can be found. Even Wikipedia requires that facts or claims be backed up with 3rd-party sources.

One thing we do know is that while Soursop may have some benefits against breast cancer in mice it is also dangerous. The fruit contains high levels of annonacin, which in large doses (3-8mg/day) can lead to Parkinson's Disease. It can also cause general cell death by blocking the cell's ability to produce ATP which is basically the bodies source of cellular energy.

Proponents claim that there is some vast conspiracy to keep the "truth" about Soursop away from the public eye because, since it is a natural product, it cannot be patented and so profits are low. However, there is nothing to prevent you, a doctor, chemist, hospital, university or other group from conducting their own scientific studies of this fruit and publishing their findings. The theory that profits can't be made by selling healthy and natural products is absurd. GNC brings in over $2 billion a year and a study by the Natural Products Foundation showed that the dietary supplement industry alone has an economic impact of $60 billion/year.

The bottom line: Soursop contains some compounds beneficial to breast cancer, however eating or drinking the raw fruit may not yield any benefits at all. It is also potentially dangerous to do so. I can not find any scientific information to support the claim that it is 10,000 times more effective than chemotherapy or is greatly more helpful in other cancers than current treatments. The idea that this is a cure-all or that direct intake will slow or cure cancer is completely false.

Sources:

1. Chemo Natural Sources http://www.uesc.br/cursos/pos_graduacao/mestrado/animal/bibliografias/roueda/artigo3.pdf  and http://www.fmh.org/body.cfm?id=900

2. Causes Parkinson's http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14675150

3. GNC Revenues http://biz.yahoo.com/ic/15/15942.html

4. NPF Report http://www.naturalproductsinfo.org/index.php?src=news&srctype=detail&category=DSIB%20Releases&refno=181&view=DSIB_Releases_Detail

Also:

1. http://www.hoaxorfact.com/Health/graviola-tree-10000-times-stronger-killer-of-cancer-than-chemo.html

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soursop

Disclaimer: I used to work as a contractor with the US Veterans Department in one of their pharmacies so I may be a part of the grand scheme to block you (a free individual) from learning about a tree (that can be found world over) or from using the scientific method to discover its uses.

37 comments:

  1. Excellent article I discovered in a random Google search. I do health reporting/content writing and was researching graviola (my client originally requested a positive slant - clients don't research well).

    Thank you for referencing the NIH studies.

    I've now reversed to include the (far more substantiated) studies on the link between outbreaks of Parkinson's in areas that consume vast quantities of this fruit - there are literally dozens. I'm joining your site and greatly appreciate the redirection/mythbusting.

    Best,
    Shayne McClendon

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    1. Sound therapy is popularizing these days because it is a very efficient and 100% natural therapy which has no side effects. Sound therapy can help Cancer healing and heart troubles etc. There is no doubt the power of Sound Healing and positive thinking is astonishing.

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  2. First off, I don't for a minute buy the sour-sop article/facebook forward/whatever, and think you did a very handy job of debunking it. However, I do want to clarify one thing:

    You refer to Adriamycin as "actually an anti-biotic used in cancer treatment", which I read as a suggestion that it's not a "real" chemotherapy drug, but an antibiotic that's used alongside them.

    While it is in fact classified as an "antitumor antibiotic", it isn't in the same class, nor does it work the same way, as the antimicrobial drugs that are typically thought of as "antibiotics". It *is* a chemotherapy drug, and works by directly attacking cancer cells -- specifically, damaging any cells that are attempting to divide.

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  3. Thank you BOTH for your comments.
    I wasn't trying to suggest that it wasn't a "real" chemo drug, but rather isn't some god-awful synthetic chemical concoction aka drain-o. And while it may not work exactly like regular antimicrobials, they do work similarly in that many prevent the microbes (or cells) from dividing, by preventing them from copying their DNA or by destroying the cell walls.

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  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10968288

    Above address directs you to the paper from the Catholic Unviersity of Daegu (in South Korea), which some blogs site, "selective cytotoxicity comparable with adriamycin..."

    The study was done on Asimina triloba which is in the same plant family as soursop.

    Thank you for your article. Nothing's black and white I realize.

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  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22475682

    Some new research stating:

    Perhaps the use of alternative medicine, like taking Graviola capsules on a regular basis, should still be considered a supplement, not a replacement for standard therapies. Currently, in vitro studies evaluating the potential of the natural product in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs are being conducted.

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  6. Hmm interesting article. I think it should be remembered that many a dangerous drug has been throughout the peer reviwed published data phase that supposedly proved its safeness, yet was responsible for maining or killing many unsuspecting patients (think of thalidomide).

    While obviously it would be nice if the data relating to the studies into the positive anti-cancer effects of this fruit had been published, I hardly think that any pharmaceutical company who had undertaken such studies would indeed publish such data if it showed, as claimed, that it was more effective than current commercially available chemotherapy drugs, without the side effects, if they could not profit from it, so Im not surprised the peer reviewed data is not available.

    Also while it may be true that high doses of the fruit taken for prolonged periods could lead to parkinsons, I think it is misleading to say therefore that it is dangerous. Many chemotherapy agents kill people. Do they call them dangerous. In fact many prescription medications have serious and sometimes leathal side effects yet nobody refers to them as dangerous.

    What I am surprised at, is if this fruit, as claimed, is in fact as effective at curing cancer as people claim, why isnt this being investigated by the cancer charities? God knows they rake in enough money (there are 5 of them in my country alone worth millions) yet such an exciting claim seems to go without any investigation.

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  7. Actually, they do claim chemo drugs are potentially dangerous. Anyone claiming otherwise is lying. All drugs (I define as a chemical engineered to provoke a specific biological response) has inherent dangers. Aspirin for example, perhaps the most well known ancient drug from a natural source, can cause fatal bleeding and in some children, Reye's Syndrome.

    You seem to be under the impression that only pharmaceutical companies engage in drug research or are the only ones who can write papers, that's incorrect. Furthermore, profit is not always the sole motivation.

    A common misperception exists that once a drug is FDA approved that it means there are no dangers and that further study ends. In fact, once a drug is approved it enters basically an eternal period of review (FDA phase 4) which looks into the effects patients continually report. Obviously few chemicals (except perhaps pure water and air) can be claimed to have no long-term ill effects on anyone. Drugs can not be ruled fully safe in every single person. Just because people are confused by this doesn't mean there is something wrong with the science.

    I also find it difficult to believe that any drug company would refuse to research or publish positive results when the WHO allows companies to patent extracts and combinations of natural products. Obviously many drugs have been patented and profited from which were found in natural substances. If extracts of graviola were found to be highly effective against cancers and lacked many side-effects, to me, I see a huge market potential. I never claimed graviola was so dangerous that people shouldn't take it but that they should be aware that there are risks and that the myth of it being side-effect free is...myth.

    There are some 60 million known chemical compounds and many more are discovered daily. Medical research institutes study as many of them as they can. It's impossible to expect them to drop all other research to look into a single compound which may or may not be effective...those claims are made about thousands of chemicals all the time. Some are looking into graviola, others into sea-sponges, conefish, plants, fungi, bacteria, viruses, etc.

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  8. Thank you for all the ideas discussed about soursop. Because of this, Filipino farmers will have a huge market for the fruit of soursop which is abundant in the Philippines.

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  9. Well, it was nice while it lasted. I like the idea of natural products working for our health and when our ancestors discovered things of nature that worked they did not know why. Great that scientists continue to sort this all out. What it always comes down to is everything in moderation and eat a variety of healthy foods. For most of us, as long as allergies or harmful combinations of foods are not an issue, this approach will give us a better chance of the benefits of plants without overdosing on them or making leaps of faith that can actually prevent us from making good decisions for our health. Thanks everyone for your insightful knowledge on this. I still think a key to poorer, warmer climate countries is to produce more fruit for everyone as long as it is not harming the eco-system. Humans seem to do everything in excess and create new problems instead we should respect what we have and live in harmony. Great day everyone.

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  10. In Jamaica we normally use soursop to make a drink but it is much better eating it out of the hand....utilizing everything....http://bestjamaica.com/soursop.html

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  11. Watch the film Forks Over Knives, and then tell people that a plant-based diet can't stop or reverse cancer growth. http://www.movie2k.to/Forks-Over-Knives-watch-movie-950706.html
    includes the largest clinical study known to date, of 880 million Chinese people some decades ago.

    I believe that the pharma and gvt's are purposely not trialling on natural methods that would be freely available to grow by all of us, because then we wouldn't be relying on them, and they couldn't profit from us. But that's my personal view, don't let that affect your thoughts on watching the above film, as it is very well made and is unbiased and scientific throughout.

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  12. 31 years ago I was given higher than "normal" doses of adriamycin to fight AML. The side effects have been numerous, including congestive heart failure and neurological damage caused by mini-strokes as the chemo leached from veins into the brain. That having been said, I was given less than a 5% chance of long-term survival and here I sit keying this response. I vomited every 30 seconds 24/7 for months. I developed blisters on my hands and feet. Bottom line...I'm alive and forever grateful. A cannibis smoothie might have gone down better, but no regrets. Hope the future holds something less toxic.

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  13. I'll watch the film but as I have said time and time again, no government can stop an individual or group from publishing results. You don't have to beg permission to study something. Furthermore, there is zero evidence that "big pharma" would go out of business and thus must crush any "natural research." I gave several examples of natural extracts which have been used to create new drugs and discussed the billions made just in the natural supplement industry. As for the "China Study", it was not a clinical trial. It was a study of cancer and related death rates among the population. The study showed, as everyone knows, that cancer risks can be increased or decreased by the surrounding environment and diet (as well as genetics). People often confuse eating a fruit (diet) with being an effect *cure*. Maintaining a proper diet has long been showed to decrease certain cancer risks, that is not the same as saying "food A cures cancer".

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  14. I am so glad I found this website. My well meaning sister in law wants me to try this fruit for my cure. I do have breast cancer, and of course I had to find out if it was true or not. I guess the old saying is true, "if it sounds to good to be true it probably is"

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    1. Just a simple question, what proof do you have that this substance works or does not work. I have not read anything that proves either. Additionally, why are others so intent on trashing this product. Have they done any experiments on it themselves. They have done nothing more then what you and I are doing now. Never allow others to close your mind. Ask people who are into holistic medicine what they think and know. Get all the facts. "The highest form of ignorance is to reject something you know nothing about." Trust me, I mean no harm with this statement. I am keeping an open mind and looking into all forms of treatment for my cure.

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    2. It's not trashing a product to use simple logic and facts. The FACTS are that raw soursop has zero evidence of anti-cancer activity, that the claim that it is 10,000 time more powerful than chemo is unsubstantiated, that those who promote soursop as a cure do not provide their own real - scientific - research, that actual research into soursop deals with *extracts* and are tested in labs, not in humans (something may work in a test tube but may have zero benefit to living humans or may even harm people), and that soursop is linked with neurological illnesses. If someone wants to try a food product to cure them they have every right to do so. In my mind though, people do not have the right to spread rumors which may turn out to be dangerous, give false hope, spread lies, or entice vulnerable people into forgoing well studied treatments (which DO work a great number of times) for the off chance that a plant will solve all their problems. Researches are continuing to study soursop and perhaps in the future we will know more, but as it stands, soursop is not an effective treatment for cancer.

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    3. Jacob... you are very naive ... drug companies are NOT in the business of healing or finding cures ... they are profit driven and to make a profit they must expand their client base --- and healing a patient is not going to make money. HIV is just one example ... they will not focus on finding a cure but will sell drugs to prolong the life of the infected so that the disease can spread ... and the money comes rollling in. Here is another report supporting the use of Graviola ... http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/02/13/soursop-graviola-cancer-cure-strong-evidnce/

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  15. how can you possible write this article...you seriously think that drugs are better than things that come straight from EARTH, organic things can have side effects....what kind of a joke is this?

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    Replies
    1. Your method of argument is called "appeal to nature" which is a well-known (and unfortunately often used) logical fallacy. Just because something comes directly from nature does not mean they're harmless. The nerve toxin sarin is an organic compound and is incredibly lethal. Organophosphates (to which many pesticides belong) are likewise organic compounds. In fact, when we become sick usually the first symptoms we develop -like muscle tenderness and fever- are not caused by the bacteria, but are cause by our own bodies releasing toxic chemicals and down the line our bodies succumb to the toxins released by the infective agent. I appreciate everyone's point of view but at least be bold enough to include simple facts, not ignorant mimicry.

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    2. co2 is organic, and is considered a pollutant in many circles. Nuclear energy is organic, and can kill you. The sun is organic and can give you cancer.... Carcinogens are organic... Do'h!

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  16. "Further claims of feeling stronger, energy boosts, improved outlook on life are all things that a simple can of Coke can provide or even being outside in the sunlight."

    Yes, I am certain a can of Coke has as much benefit as being in sunlight.

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  17. A can of Coke ? REALLY ?!@#$%^ - anyone who references drinking a can of COKE ( as a way to feel good? ) gets demoted in my book . shut the door on your way out ! Sour Sop is the answer and this article was written by some tool for the cancer industry # CLEARLY

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    Replies
    1. Well, it's obvious that you either didn't read this article with on open mind or that you're so ignorant of basic truths nothing else matters but your blind belief in unsubstantiated claims. I merely said that a Coke can make a person *feel* better (sugar and caffeine both have this effect) & that simply feeling better is not evidence of any cure and can be accomplished by a great many substances. Thank you for your uninformed comment.

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  18. Replies
    1. I agree, don't these people who are critical of these cures, EVER WONDER WHY SUCH STUDIES ON NATURAL CANCER CURES ARE NEVER done????? They are NOT DONE because the answers are already evident and the FDA and BIG PHARMA doesn WANT the results verified! There's wayyyy to much money made in cancer treatments that DON'T WORK!

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  19. I did some NIH researchs in my blog posts Soursop Benefits Scam? and you missed the NIH links that said cis-annonacin derived from soursop was selectively cytotoxic to colon adenocarcinoma cells (HT-29) in which it was 10,000 times the potency of adriamycin.

    If going to my blog post bothers you, just straight ahead to the NIH link http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8991944/


    Best wishes to your health,

    Verdi

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for all the research into this you have done. I would like to point some things out though. The study cited used a fractionation process of seeds which isolated specific compounds. These *pure* compounds were then tested in brine shrimp which are incredibly sensitive to toxins. The reason brine shrimp tests are important is because if a compound harms the shrimp it will almost certainly carry risks for humans. An isolated and pure compound sample is entirely different than eating the fruit itself, or juices made from it. It is still an extract, it is not the fruit. The fruit itself contains thousands of compounds, enzymes, proteins etc (as do all complex plants) and some of those are very harmful and others may - in the end - be beneficial to humans. I never stated people should not eat the fruit, but rather, they should use a bit of logic and recognize that eating the fruit will not be 10,000 times more effective than chemo, it will not cure cancer and it will carry risks. Chemo agents have a long tradition of coming from natural sources. It is the extraction, purification and concentration of those effective agents which makes a chemo drug work.

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    2. Indeed, I'm not saying that eating soursop fruit may have 10,000 times the potency of adriamycin, but from the extracts of soursop seeds.

      The leaves of soursop were found to be cytotoxic to colon, pancreatic, and lung carcinoma cells lines, with the potencial treatment equal to, or exceeding from those with adriamycin.

      Bullatacin, one of Annonaceous acetogenins is cytotoxic against multidrug resistant human mammary adenocarcinoma cells, cancer cells that are resistant to the treatment with adriamycin, vincristine, and vinblastine.

      The latest 2012 study by Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Omaha, Nebraska, US, had demonstrated the potential of soursop as a therapeutic agent for pancreatic cancer.

      So, why compounds derived from the whole of soursop tree cannot be used as cancer drugs? Because, it is natural resources. And, natural resources cannot be patented as drugs. Who first discovered soursop as natural cancer cell killer? It was the Big Pharma conspiracy. Their own scientists who first revealed the information. You can search on Google with the term of graviola!

      And yes, every drugs, even adriamycin have side effects including soursop. But, the chemotherapeutic effects of soursop compounds are only cytotoxic to cancer cells, and not for healthy cells.

      After all it's all about big money and conspiracy. Big Pharma have spend millions of dollar on soursop research. If soursop is able to cure cancer, they will lose billions of dollar on drugs that are only span the life of cancer patients. And yes, cancer is a big business.

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      Delete
  20. I have heard many cancer cure benefits about soursop. It is indeed a great surprise to everybody, before it's just a plant and a fruit but now people are using it for health reasons. Nice article!

    alternative treatments to cancer centers

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  21. You said "After a fairly extensive search I only found 1, peer-reviewed, scientific article describing the benefits of Graviola extract (which is not the same as raw fruit)."

    I looked on pubmed (searching on 'Annona muricata cancer') and found 11 articles. A quick read indicates that the plant is a rich source of acetogenins which are of great interest in chemoprevention/chemotherapy. While these results are only preliminary, there does seem to be a great deal of interest in the potential of this plant.

    Additionally, a relative of the soursop (the American Asimina plants) have also been widely studied and show marked anti-cancer activities), they appear to have an extremely high therapeutic index and impact cancer cells far, far more intensely than normal cells. Here's a good video by a Purdue researcher on the acetogenins in Asimina pawpaws ... that researcher is primarily a plant scientist (not an oncologist) but he makes a good case.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8CKs5S74v8

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  22. Very interesting article. This fruit grows in my home country of Trinidad. Though i've never heard anything mentioned about warding of any type of cancer, there is however, unsupported claims that it is a great aphrodisiac. One thing I do know for sure is that, it is completely harmless to drink. The folks in my village, including me in my early years, drank the milk, which was extracted from the flesh on a regular basis. And, the taste was yummy. They even used it to make sour sop ice cream.

    I do agree, that sometimes folks love to buy into the fallacies that all things from nature are nice. Unfortunately, even nature rears it's ugly head from time to time. In my grandmother's backyard, which I refer to as a garden of eden, there were several herbs she used to treat us that I was allergic to, but my other siblings were able to tolerate.

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  23. Great blog. As a scientist (geology) I make it a point of honor to challenge my friends Facebook posts wherever I find an obvious scam, be it misattribution or hoax. I think I may be losing some " friends", but I just can't stand by.

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  24. I also naturally distrust any comments/posts with large caps, like some of the above. It's the same as shouting - meaning there's no evidence behind it.

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  25. do you belive this crap?chimiotherapy is very bad for all humans,i have relatives who try.it and was wars after,and many pupil,you have no soul,no GOD ,sugesting this crap,this toxin,shame on you ,maybe you are also a doctor who like money to much....

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  26. The most useful part of this article was the disclaimer. Thank you, for challenging the human mind.

    "If you want to search for the truth you must really search for it."

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