Fact check: Can mistletoe cure cancer?

Here's all you need to know.

By Sunanda Naik  Published on  17 Sep 2023 12:37 PM GMT
Fact check: Can mistletoe cure cancer?

A post claiming that mistletoe can potentially cure cancer is viral on social media and several users have shared it.

The caption reads, ‘Mistletoe cancer therapy is appropriate for almost all tumor diseases. You can start using mistletoe at any time – before or after surgery, as well as before, during, or after radiation, chemo-, hormonal, or antibody therapies.’

WHO describes cancer as a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.

Fact Check

NewsMeter found the claim false.

What is mistletoe?

Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic plant that has been used for centuries to treat numerous human ailments. It is used commonly in Europe, where a variety of different extracts are manufactured and marketed as injectable prescription drugs. These injectable drugs are not available commercially in the United States and are not approved as a treatment for people with cancer.

National Cancer Institute found that the use of mistletoe as a treatment for people with cancer has been investigated in clinical studies. Reports of improved survival and/or quality of life have been common, but many of the studies had major weaknesses that raise doubts about the reliability of the findings.

‘The use of mistletoe cannot be recommended outside the context of well-designed clinical trials. Such trials will be valuable to determine more clearly whether mistletoe can be useful in treating specific subsets of cancer patients.’

According to WebMD, ‘European mistletoe is possibly safe when used appropriately. But taking more than three berries or two leaves is likely unsafe and can cause serious side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and liver damage. Do not take European mistletoe without the advice of your healthcare professional.’


It should be noted that every kind of cancer is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all cure. But sometimes, people may say they are cured if their cancer seems to go away with treatment. But it’s not quite that simple.

WebMD further adds, ‘There are no cures for any kinds of cancer, but there are treatments that may cure you.’

Claim Review:Mistletoe cures all types of cancer.
Claimed By:Social media user
Claim Reviewed By:NewsMeter
Claim Source:Facebook
Claim Fact Check:False
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