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Wild eggplant, an effective remedy against “any type of cancer” – including cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach? This is what a publication shared nearly 25,000 times since April 15, which circulates on Facebook in Central Africa, says. Attention: according to several experts contacted by AFP, there is no scientific data proving the effectiveness of this vegetable on cancer, whatever it is.The promotion of such “miracle cures” can also be dangerous for the health of patients.
The wild eggplant “can save lives“says the Luxurious Laplante page, and heal”any type of cancer“: cancer of the breast, prostate, liver, stomach, even kidneys… It would be enough to cure yourself by drinking it”in the form of tea“, with hot water.
These publications have been shared nearly 25,000 times (1, 2, 3, 4…) since April 15 in Central Africa.
“Causing almost 10 million deaths in 2020, cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide“, explains the World Health Organization (WHO) on its site.
That same year, the most common cancer was breast cancer, with 2.26 million cases recorded, further specifies the WHO, well before that affecting the prostate (1.41 million cases) or the stomach (1 .09 million cases).
However, according to several experts interviewed by AFP, the effectiveness of the remedy recommended by this publication has not been scientifically established – it may even prove to be dangerous.
No data proving the effectiveness of wild eggplant
For all cancer types mentioned in this publication, “there is no scientific evidence“about the alleged effectiveness of wild eggplant as a treatment, assured AFP on April 20 Pr. Béatrice Fervers, oncologist and director of the Environmental Cancer Prevention Department of the Léon Bérard Center, in Lyon (France) .
The five cancers cited by the publication – breast, prostate, stomach, liver, kidney – are “very different in their tissue of origin, their mode of appearance and their evolution“, she recalls: “consequently, the treatments are different, for example most breast cancers and prostate cancers are so-called hormone-dependent cancers on which the action of hormones comes into play and forms part of the treatment; this is not the case with cancer of the stomach, kidney and liver“.
An earlier version of this fake news circulated as early as 2019 about breast cancer; AFP had already verified this rumor. Several experts contacted at the time already assured that the effectiveness of this remedy was not scientifically proven.
“There is no miracle cure for cancer“, confirms Serpos Dossou, oncologist and radiotherapist at the Cotonou Cancer Center (Benin) contacted by AFP on April 19. “Each cancer treatment is well codified, for each type of cancer there are different types histologies [étude de la structure des tissus], and depending on the type of histology, different types of treatment“, confirms this specialist.
Moreover, “for the same organ, different cancer subtypes can develop“, adds the oncologist, which induces “different treatments, even [quand on traite un même] organ“.
It is therefore impossible for a single food to cure several cancers affecting different organs, according to all the experts contacted by AFP.
A potentially “dangerous” remedy
Beyond its lack of proven efficacy, this type of remedy can be dangerous, according to all the experts contacted by AFP.
On the subject of breast cancer, Xavier Cormoul, professor of toxicology at the University of Paris Descartes, already assured AFP in December 2019 that consuming wild eggplant as a treatment could be “dangerous, because some vegetables contain toxic compounds and are mistakenly believed to destroy tumors“.
At the same time, cancer surgeon Ambroise Ntama, stationed at the Deido district hospital in Douala, Cameroon, explained to AFP that “hasfter the diagnosis, breast cancer induces treatment that is both surgical, medical (chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted treatments), radiotherapy and psychological support“, and not a treatment based on a single active ingredient.
Follow advice, such as that suggested by the publication, “is opposed to [ce] that we [découvre] early stage disease“, also alerts Serpos Dossou, of the Cotonou Cancer Center. “The disease will be at a very developed stage“, which may be “very dangerous“, continues this specialist, who is alarmed by the spread of false information about cancer.
This is also the fear of Béatrice Fervers, of the Léon Bérard center in Lyon: the promotion of a “miracle food“Risk, according to her, of encouraging some patients who have just been diagnosed or whose cancer has reappeared to turn to this dangerous advice and”worsen their situation by neglecting effective treatments“.
“At best, it may confuse patients; at worst, it can lead to loss of luck [de guérison] or, depending on the product, to harmful or toxic effects“, she summarizes.
The two oncologists agree in any case to advise to be screened and, in the event of proven cancer, to follow the treatments recommended by the medical teams.