A video on Facebook, which has been viewed more than 65,000 times, suggests that rubbing hydrogen peroxide on your skin can treat cancer.
During the video the speaker says that hydrogen peroxide “kills germs and viruses” and “tumour tissue, cancer.” She then recommends patients rub hydrogen peroxide “on their bodies every day at least once, preferably twice”. By doing this, the speaker claims, it is “absorbed right into the bloodstream… and it helps to kill germs and viruses, and it helps to kill tumour tissue, and it helps to oxygenate and ozonate the blood and it helps to combine with free radicals.”
Hydrogen peroxide is a colourless liquid found in low concentrations in things like household products and antiseptics. While hydrogen peroxide solutions are effective at killing germs and viruses, including in UK hospitals and other NHS organisations to prevent the spread of Covid-19, there is almost no evidence it can be used on the skin as a treatment for cancer.
Head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, Martin Ledwick, told Full Fact: “Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a disinfectant and in very weak solution for some minor ailments. But it has no use in treating cancer.
“Depending on the strength of the hydrogen peroxide, rubbing the solution on your skin could lead to burning and blistering. It should definitely be kept away from eyes and not be ingested.”
Dr Navita Somaiah, clinician scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, told Full Fact that rubbing hydrogen peroxide on the skin is “dangerous” and the claims made in the video are “completely wrong”.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has said solutions of 50% or above applied to the skin can cause “severe irritation and corrosion, severe burns, blisters, ulcers and permanent scarring.”
There has been some research into using hydrogen peroxide to treat cancer, but nothing that has suggested simply rubbing it on the skin once or twice a day.
One small-scale study of 11 patients found that the application of a 33% hydrogen peroxide solution to non-melanoma skin cancer lesions led to a significant reduction in the length and width of lesions before they were surgically removed. The application of the solution however was precisely controlled and only applied to the lesion site, and the authors of the study said further research was needed.
Another small-scale study has looked into the effect of a combination of radiotherapy and injecting hydrogen peroxide into tumour tissue in reducing tumour size. However, this does not involve simply rubbing hydrogen peroxide over the skin.
We have previously written about dangerous claims recommending the use of nebulised hydrogen peroxide as a treatment for respiratory infections.
Image courtesy of soimless, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.