A social media user published a video reporting an unidentified speaker claiming to kill cancer by rubbing hydrogen peroxide on skin. We fact-checked and found the claim to be False.
A Facebook user shared a 2-minute TikTok video showing an unidentified speaker claiming to cure cancer by rubbing hydrogen peroxide on the skin. In the video, the unidentified speaker has claimed, “Hydrogen peroxide – a colorless compound made of water and an extra oxygen molecule – on a whiteboard. It kills tumor tissue, cancer…we give every patient when they come a bottle of peroxide to rub on their bodies every day at least once, preferably twice. It’s absorbed right into the bloodstream”.
Can rubbing hydrogen peroxide on skin kill cancer cells?
No. There is no evidence that suggests rubbing hydrogen peroxide on the skin can kill cancer cells. On the contrary, hydrogen peroxide is poisonous when applied on the skin to cause severe toxicity such as inflammation, blisters and skin damage.
Earlier, hydrogen peroxide was considered a mild antiseptic to clean cuts, scrapes or skin wounds. However, doctors do not recommend using hydrogen peroxide anymore because it can cause irreversible damage to the skin.
The Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website suggests that hydrogen peroxide is poorly absorbed through intact skin. Moreover, concentrated hydrogen peroxide above 3 per cent is irritant to the skin and mucous membranes.
Dr. Manish Singhal, Oncologist, Apollo Hospital, Delhi, says, “No evidence suggests rubbing hydrogen peroxide on the skin can kill cancer cells. This misinformation might have arisen from the fact that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) plays a role in cancer development.
The available literature has shown that cancer cells produce high amounts of hydrogen peroxide. The high levels of hydrogen peroxide can induce DNA alterations, cell proliferation, apoptosis resistance, metastasis, angiogenesis and hypoxia-inducible factor 1. On the contrary, hydrogen peroxide can also cause cancer cell death and influence the activities of anticancer drugs to a certain extent.
Despite the promising application of hydrogen peroxide in cancer treatment, there are no human trials to confirm the same”.
Can chemicals penetrate the skin to reach cells?
Chemicals on the skin can penetrate the dermal layers to directly reach the tissue level. In general, chemicals are absorbed by different layers of the skin to reach the bloodstream and cause an effect.
Likewise, a study has shown that hydrogen peroxide gets absorbed by the skin to kill keratinocytes on the skin layers. Another study has shown that hydrogen peroxide can travel through the bloodstream to damage different organs of the body.
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