Cancer can develop independent of liver health

By: Karin Koronen
June 28 2024

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Cancer can develop independent of liver health

Source: Instagram/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts


The Verdict False

The body has mechanisms to repair, restore, or eliminate mutated cells to prevent cancer, but optimal liver function alone isn't enough.

Claim ID 626f5880


In an Instagram video (archived here), discredited naturopath Barbara O'Neill claims that cancer can't "get ahold of the body" if the liver is working at optimum performance. She also asserts that herbs, particularly lemon and dandelion, aid in liver regrowth and recovery. The video has gained over 312,623 views. 

However, the claim is false. While liver health is important for preventing and managing cancer, the body uses several other mechanisms to maintain cellular integrity.

In fact

According to the National Cancer Institute, a U.S. government body, cancer is a group of diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth, division, and spread of abnormal cells. The genetic mutations responsible for cancer can be triggered by multiple factors, such as carcinogens (substances that cause cancer) of biological, synthetic, or physical origin, inherited genetic factors, or random DNA replication errors. These mutations can occur regardless of an individual's health condition, including the health of their liver. Each step of cancer development is multifactorial, and the risk of developing it has been related to factors such as environmental exposure, lifestyle choices, genetic predisposition, and certain infections. 

The liver, located in the upper right section of the abdomen, performs over 500 tasks, including detoxifying harmful substances, synthesizing proteins, and producing chemicals that aid digestion. Many of these functions also help protect the body and the liver itself against abnormal cell growth, which can lead to cancer. The liver is vital for detoxifying and destroying harmful substances produced within the body (endogenous) and outside the body (exogenous). This process helps to maintain the body's normal functioning and protects us against disease. 

However, it does not, nor is it supposed to, provide a protective shield against all forms of cancer. Instead, plenty of mechanisms are in place to repair, restore, or eliminate possibly cancerous cells, such as DNA repair mechanisms, cell cycle checkpoints, and programmed cell death (apoptosis), all of which can work independently of liver functioning. People with healthy livers can still get cancer, including liver cancer, which is often secondary, originating from another part of the body.

In her second claim, Barbara O'Neill does not explicitly cite dandelion and lemon as a cure for cancer. Still, she mentions both as remedies for aiding liver regrowth and recovery. According to research, dandelion can potentially support liver health, but the scope and amount of studies remain limited. Dandelion and lemon have been proven to have a protective effect on alcohol-induced liver damage, and they can synergistically enhance antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. However, lemons and dandelions are not a proven remedy against cancer.

Barbara O'Neill is a naturopath known for spreading false claims and unproven health remedies. Her misinformation includes statements about statins and heart disease, sugar consumption and cancer, and castor oils and tonsil stones, all debunked by Logically Facts. In 2018-2019, the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) investigated her practices and found that she was not qualified to offer health advice within her training and expertise. She also failed to keep records of the health advice she provided, violating legal requirements. Consequently, Barbara O'Neill has been indefinitely banned from offering health services or education in any capacity.

The verdict

While maintaining optimal liver function is crucial for both preventing and managing cancer, it alone does not guarantee prevention. Multiple factors and mechanisms are involved in managing mutated cells, many of which are universal and occur in cells throughout the body. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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