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This morning I read an article on Facebook (in German) about the huge health benefits of lemons - and not just the juice, but the whole lemon, especially the skin.

Several other sites make similar claims. This Dynamic Health Now site recommends freezing lemons, grating the whole fruit, and sprinkling the result in your food to protect against cancer cells.

it comes from one of the largest drug manufacturers in the world, says that after more than 20 laboratory tests since 1970, the extracts revealed that It destroys the malignant cells in 12 cancers, including colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreas …The compounds of this tree showed 10,000 times better than the product Adriamycin, a drug normally used chemotherapeutic in the world, slowing the growth of cancer cells. And what is even more astonishing: this type of therapy with lemon extract only destroys malignant cancer cells and it does not affect healthy cells.

This Youtube video also makes these claims.

Does eating lemons cure cancer?

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    Hi Jakob. Do you have a link to the German site, or should we use the others as indicative? – Oddthinking Aug 21 '13 at 12:45
  • thanks for the editing. It is ok with the english link, since the german one was only a facebook post (which I probably can't hyperlink to) and it says pretty much the same thing :) – Jakob Abfalter Aug 21 '13 at 14:17
  • Sure, that's fine, Jakob. We can address those claims, and ignore the German version. – Oddthinking Aug 21 '13 at 17:30
  • "protect against cancer cells" is very different from "cure cancer". Which one it is? – nico Sep 21 '13 at 23:28
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+100

This claim has already been featured on snopes.com and was rated "mixture of true and false information":

However, the best that can be said at this point is that citrus fruits may potentially harbor anti-cancer properties that could help ward off cancer. No reputable scientific or medical studies have reported that lemons have been found to be a "proven remedy against cancers of all types," nor has any of the (conveniently unnamed) "world's largest drug manufacturers" reported discovering that lemons are "10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy" and that their ingestion can "destroy malignant [cancer] cells." All of those claims are hyperbole and exaggeration not supported by facts.

5

Maybe.

D-limonene is one of the most common terpenes in nature. It is a major constituent in several citrus oils (orange, lemon, mandarin, lime, and grapefruit).


D-limonene has well-established chemopreventive activity against many types of cancer. Evidence from a phase I clinical trial demonstrated a partial response in a patient with breast cancer and stable disease for more than six months in three patients with colorectal cancer.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18072821

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    Those four patients (which is a really small sample...) were treated with D-limonene, not with lemons, which is very different. The doses given are extremely higher than what one would normally get from eating lemons (which is what the question asks). – nico Sep 21 '13 at 23:35
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Lemons are a fruit and contain a variety of compounds both in the pulp and the skin. Some of these organic molecules can have effects in human physiology, but the scientific information available indicates that eating lemons or drinking lemon juice will have no direct substantial effect on curing cancer.

If scientists are studying specific compounds also found in lemons, that's a different matter. See for example a case of a specific compound found in Citrus fruits:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24573532

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