Faith in the baking soda cancer treatment remains unshakable

Recently, a controversial Italian doctor was convicted of manslaughter, after his patient died of a cardiac arrest because of a sodium bicarbonate injection. This didn't stop his proponents from believing in his "alternative" cancer treatments. 

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Faith in the baking soda cancer treatment remains unshakable - NewsMavens
Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

The story of baking soda's miraculous ability to cure cancer has been circulated on blogs, online media and social networks for years. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that supports it and medical professionals have been warning against the health risks of the "treatment" since the theory first appeared.

But, the opinions of actual doctors are easily dismissed by the proponents of "alternative treatments" online. "Well, that's just one person. Do you know how many were killed by chemo?" one comment reads. "I'll always rather support the alternative than the legal poison of the pharmaceutical companies", declares another. "They die in agony at the hands of pharmacomafia and nobody answers for that".

Doctors debunking the baking soda treatment are labeled as puppets of "big pharma", who would all lose their jobs if the word got out about a cure that's "much cheaper and 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy", as many online media claim.  

The recent tragic case exposes an alarming pattern. This, of course, is an anecdotal example and an extreme one, but it shows that not even death by malpractice is enough to sway believers in quackery peddled by online media and amplified by social networks. 

But it is not isolated. Tens of thousands band together in facebook groups, where completely unqualified people advise each other on treatments of serious illnesses and demonize anything related to science-based medicine.

Are we entering another age of charlatanism?

scandal, health, media

The story od Dr Simoncini

  • In 2006, a doctor named Tullio Simoncini lost his medical licence in Italy, after three of his patients died.
  • They all had cancer in terminal stages and he treated them with an untested, unproven method of injecting a mixture of sodium bicarbonate into the tumor mass.
  • Simoncini claims that cancer is a fungus, which can be treated by decreasing the acidity of the tumor with sodium bicarbonate.
  • The charges of manslaughter were dropped, but he was sentenced for fraud, as the court concluded that he charged two of them a total of 15,000 euro for a "useless coctail of sodium bicarbonate and water".
  • Nevertheless, Simoncini became an international icon of "alternative cancer treatment" and illegally continued his practice in other countries. Several more deaths are connected to it.
  • In January, he was convicted for malpractice and manslaughter, after his patient died in Albaina. He was 27 and suffered from cancer, but what killed him was a cardiac arrest, induced by Simoncini's "cure".
  • Despite all these facts, Simoncini is still hailed as a miracle worker by countless online portals in the Balkans (and worldwide).

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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