Published On: Thu, May 15th, 2014

Sour Sop (Guanábana). Can Popular Yucatan Fruit really Cure Cancer?

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In laboratory tests, graviola extract has been shown to kill certain types of liver and breast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs.

One laboratory study also found that a compound isolated from sour sop seeds had 10,000 times the potency of one particular chemotherapy drug on colon adenocarcinoma cells.

However, as yet, there have been no large scale tests on humans and there is no credible evidence to support claims that graviola is an effective cure or treatment for cancer.

Thus, while plant compounds in graviola may have properties that can kill cancer cells in vitro, claiming that sour sop is a “miracle unleashed” and a viable alternative to medical cancer treatments such as chemotherapy is highly misleading.


The Sour Sop or the fruit from the Graviola tree is a miraculous natural cancer cell killer 10,000 times stronger than Chemo.
The National Cancer Institute performed the first scientific research in 1976.

The results showed that Graviola’s “leaves and stems were found effective in attacking and destroying malignant cells.” Inexplicably, the results were published in an internal report and never released to the public.

Since 1976, Graviola has proven to be an immensely potent cancer killer in 20 independent laboratory tests, yet no double-blind clinical trials–the typical benchmark mainstream doctors and journals use to judge a treatment’s value–were ever initiated.

A study published in the Journal of Natural Products, following a recent study conducted at Catholic University of South Korea stated that one chemical in Graviola was found to selectively kill colon cancer cells at “10,000 times the potency of (the commonly used chemotherapy drug) Adriamycin…”

The most significant part of the Catholic University of South Korea report is that Graviola was shown to selectively target the cancer cells, leaving healthy cells untouched. Unlike chemotherapy, which indiscriminately targets all actively reproducing cells (such as stomach and hair cells), causing the often devastating side effects of nausea and hair loss in cancer patients.

A study at Purdue University recently found that leaves from the Graviola tree killed cancer cells among six human cell lines and were especially effective against prostate, pancreatic and lung cancers.



Detailed Analysis
This would-be health advisory informs recipients about the supposedly miraculous cancer killing powers of sour sop, the fruit of the graviola tree.

According to the message, sour sop is a natural cancer killer that has been proven to be a whopping 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy in treating cancers.

The message also claims that, although drug companies are aware of the graviola’s amazing cancer fighting properties, they have chosen not to release the information to the public or pursue further research because they will not be able to make any money out of it.

The message claims that, since the graviola tree is “all natural”, it is not patentable and drug companies therefore cannot make profits from it.

However, the claims in the message are highly misleading and inaccurate. The author of the message has taken a core of truthful information from scientific studies pertaining to graviola and extrapolated wildly, tacking on a host of false assumptions, misused statistics and ridiculous accusations in a rather lame attempt to make her claims sound more credible.

So, lets start at the beginning. Graviola extracts have demonstrated anticancer properties in laboratory tests, but these extracts have not been properly studied in humans. In its article about graviola, Cancer Research UK notes:

In laboratory studies, graviola extracts can kill some types of liver and breast cancer cells that are resistant to particular chemotherapy drugs. But there haven’t been any large scale studies in humans. So we don’t know yet whether it can work as a cancer treatment or not.

Thus the claims in the message that the fruit has been extensively researched and has been found to be a miraculous natural remedy for many kinds of cancer is simply not true. There is, as yet, no credible evidence to support the idea that eating sour sop will cure or effectively treat cancer in humans. The abstract of a 2008 study into Complementary therapies, herbs, and other OTC agents notes:

Graviola demonstrated anticancer effects in vitro, but has not been studied in humans. Despite the lack of human data, many websites promote graviola to cancer patients based on traditional use and on the in vitro studies. Caution is required as there is no evidence of safety or efficacy.

And Cancer Research UK further explains:

Many sites on the internet advertise and promote graviola capsules as a cancer cure, but none of them are supported by any reputable scientific cancer organisations.

An article about graviola on the CancerNetwork website concurs:

Despite the absence of supportive data, graviola, like many herbal products, is heavily promoted to cancer patients on the Internet, often with false claims of cure. Patients should be cautioned against herbal supplement use when on treatment.

So, what of the claim in the message that graviola is “10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy”? This claim again deliberately misrepresents an existing medical study. A 1996 study found that a compound isolated and extracted from the seeds of annona muricata (sour sop) had 10,000 times the potency of the chemotherapy drug adriamycin on colon adenocarcinoma cells. However, these results are for only one kind of chemotherapy drug. And, unless a cancer patient were to eat the fruit’s seeds rather than the fruit itself, they would not receive the cancer killing compound. Moreover, these tests were performed in the laboratory. Humans were not tested.

And, of course, the message quite conveniently forgets to mention the possible negative side effects of graviola. Cancer Research UK again:

We know very little about how graviola affects the body. But we do know that it may cause nerve changes, causing symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. So it may have harmful side effects for some people. Always talk to your doctor before taking any kind of complementary or alternative therapy.

The Cancer Network article notes:

Graviola may cause movement disorders and myeloneuropathy with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease

Sour sop

The message suggests that drug companies have not proceeded with research and development of potential sour sop based medications because the product was natural and they therefore could not make money out of it. However, that claim is simply absurd. A great many of the drugs available today come from natural products. And the drug companies that create and distribute them make very large amounts of money as a result.

Any cancer treatment derived from sour sop would likely consist of compounds and extracts that could be administered to patients in the same ways as other medications. And, the development and distribution of such sour sop based medicines would fall to the drug companies. If the resulting treatment was successful, the drug would make such companies great deals of money. So, the claim that a drug company has shelved research and development of the product because it could not make money out of it is just plain silly.

And the great irony here is that many “natural health” companies already offer “graviola supplements” – often with exaggerated and unsupported claims about the product’s benefits – at inflated prices and are therefore already making large amounts of money. If further research indicates that graviola can be used to create an effective anti-cancer drug, then you can be sure that the drug companies will certainly jump on board. Meanwhile, natural health product providers are already making plenty of money out of sour sop supplements – without the need to scientifically prove the product’s effectiveness.

The circulating message was apparently lifted from a 2009 Health Sciences Institute website article geared to getting readers to sign up for a “free” report.

HSI is an “alternative” health information site “dedicated to uncovering and researching the most urgent advances in modern underground medicine”. Despite the impressive sounding name, credible and reputable “health science” information does not appear to be at all high on HSI’s agenda.

The bottom line? Graviola, like many other plants, has shown promise in laboratory tests as a possible cancer fighting agent. However, given that there have been no significant human tests of the products and there is currently no evidence to suggest that eating sour sop will cure or effectively treat cancer, spreading this over-hyped and inaccurate nonsense will help nobody. Especially since the possible side effects of graviola are not fully understood and may be quite dangerous. And another great danger of such misinformation is that it may cause some cancer patients to forgo traditional treatments in favour of self prescribed sour sop. Such a decision could be fatal.



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