Dangerous Myths: Cancer is a Fungus

A whole branch of the “alternative treatments” industry is devoted to the idea that cancer is a fungus (and bicarbonate is the cure).  The obsession of the “natural remedy” industry with sodium bicarbonate is another mystery I am yet to begin to unravel. Let’s look at the ideas behind this dangerous myth in a bit more detail.

1. Cancer is a fungus

The hypothesis behind this idea is that cancer is an overgrown mass of pathological fungus, in particular of the type Candida. Candida infections are very common both in young children (where it often presents as an oral infection) and in adults (where it causes urinary tract infections and is often transmitted through sexual contact). The good news is that Candida infections are easy to treat  with anti-fungal medicines, the most common of which is fluconazole. Interestingly, thousands of cancer patients receive fluconazole every day to treat fungal infections that result from their debilitated immune system. No study to date is yet to link fluconazole treatment with cancer remission.

Of course, the idea that cancer is made up of fungus is nonsense. We look a cancer cells every day under the microscope – cells that have been take out of cancer patients during surgery. Human cells (cancerous or not) and fungal cells look very different even under the most basic microscope. Even though both human and fungal cells are eukaryotic – which means the package their DNA in a solid compartment called the nucleus – fungal cells have a thick cell wall around the surface. What’s more, fungal cells reproduce differently from animal cells, which means that they usually are smaller, very round and tend to sit in Indian file and form long strings, which end up looking like sticks when you look at the under the microscope. The picture on the top is of fungal cells (from the same Candida fungus that supposedly forms cancer). The picture on the bottom is of human cells (healthy cells that line the inside of the stomach). As you can tell, they are pretty different (just look at the shape of the cell, not the color. These colors are added in the lab so we can take pictures).

morelasci               stomach_with_prominent_parietal_cells_-_high_mag

To compare the two types of cell with each other, here is a picture of Candida cells infesting the cells that line the throat of a patient with a Candida infection. Needless to say the stick-like parts of the photo are Candida cells, while the spread out and purple-fried-egg looking things are human cells.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Now we have established what human cells and Candida cells look like, here is a picture of cells from a tumor. While these cells are rather different from the healthy human cells above, it is pretty clear they look nothing like fungal cells. 

breast_cancer_metastasis_to_liver_1

If simply looking isn’t enough, rest assured that thousands of molecular biology labs in the world have looked at cancer cell DNA. What they routinely find is malfunctioning and often damaged human DNA. 

2. …and bicarb is the cure

Bicarbonate of soda is not a fungicial  , which means it does not kill fungus. However, it is fungistatic, which means that in its presence fungus will stop growing and just sit in limbo. That is why while home-remedies based on bicarbonate of soda will help stop Candida infections from getting worse, in order to get rid of it you need to go to the doctor and get antifungal medication (see the previously mentioned fluconazole). So if cancer was a fungus (which it isn’t, as we have seen above), bicarb of soda would still not cure it. In conclusion, this dangerous myth is both lacking in terms of facts and in terms of an internal logic.

 

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