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Spontaneous remission of cancer is rare; no evidence it occurs from diet or lifestyle changes

Posted on:  2024-06-20

Key takeaway

Spontaneous remission of cancer is an extremely rare and poorly understood phenomenon. Researchers have proposed various mechanisms by which spontaneous remission can occur, but there's no conclusive evidence pointing to any particular mechanism as responsible for spontaneous remission. Maintaining a balanced diet is important for health, but there isn’t evidence to suggest that diet and lifestyle choices can cause spontaneous remission of cancer. Forgoing clinically proven cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation can have adverse health outcomes, including further spread of cancer throughout the body and death.

Reviewed content


Diet and lifestyle changes, rather than standard treatments like chemotherapy or radiation, can cause spontaneous remission of cancer

Source: Anti-Cancer Mom, Cortney Campbell, 2024-06-13

Verdict detail

Inadequate support: There is extremely limited evidence explaining the potential mechanisms for spontaneous remission of cancer. While a lifestyle choice like eating a balanced diet can have a net positive impact on health, there isn’t scientific evidence to support the notion that it can cure cancer.

Full Claim

“My cancer just went away. Without treatment. [...] Sometimes that happens! It's called ‘spontaneous remission’ - cancer that goes away without medical treatment”; “My oncologist: Your cancer will come back. It's just a matter of time. [...] Me still cancer free without his treatment 15 years later still chugging my cancer fighting smoothie”


In June of 2024, social media posts sharing a “cancer fighting smoothie” recipe appeared on Facebook and Instagram. The posts, shared by Anti-Cancer Mom, received thousands of interactions. Anti-Cancer Mom is the online handle for Cortney Campbell, who has over 65,000 followers on Facebook and over 94,000 followers on Instagram.

Campbell shared on her website that she was diagnosed with “Stage II Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin Lymphoma” in 2008. In her social media posts, Campbell claimed that her cancer went into “spontaneous remission” and has remained in remission for 15 years thanks to changes in diet and lifestyle.

As we will explain below, there is limited evidence to explain the underlying mechanisms for spontaneous remission of cancer. In the absence of such evidence, forgoing clinically proven cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can have serious health consequences, including metastasis (the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another) and death.

What is spontaneous remission of cancer?

Spontaneous remission of cancer is the decrease or disappearance of cancer without the use of standard treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Spontaneous remission is a poorly understood phenomenon and is considered to be extremely rare.

There is little scientific evidence explaining why spontaneous remission occurs. Of the sparse evidence available, most literature consists of case studies analyzing the medical history of single patients.

For example, a review of cases from 1900 to 1987 found a number of potential mechanisms for spontaneous remission, ranging from onset of pregnancy to dietary changes to acute infections[1]. The authors of the review, Challis and Stam, further explained:

“The very structure of this literature, relying as it does on case reports, makes it difficult to conclude with any certainty that the postulated variables are in fact responsible for a particular regression. It is only following the examination of a large series of cases that pursuing certain causes in further research may seem prudent. Of those authors willing to speculate, immunological and endocrine functions appear to be the most consistently reported factors in the biological domain that are related to the spontaneous regression of cancer.”

In brief, while case studies may be a starting point to identify patterns across patients and treatments, they can’t provide sufficient evidence as to why spontaneous remission occurs. The same limitation also applies to anecdotal evidence, like Campbell’s reel.

No current evidence that certain dietary habits can cure cancer

Misinformation related to cancer prevention and treatment methods poses an indirect threat to health, since it may lead patients to delay or reject life-saving clinically-proven treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.

To this point, there is no credible evidence validating that a certain type of diet can cure cancer. The smoothie recipe touted in the Facebook post, for example, includes numerous foods that align with the “alkaline diet”, including fruits, vegetables, and sprouts. Campbell didn’t cite this diet as a basis for the smoothie that she made, but it’s popularly been touted as a cancer cure, despite the lack of evidence to support it.

The belief that an “alkaline diet” can cure cancer is associated with the myth that acidity in the body exacerbates cancer, and thus consuming foods to counteract acidity can prevent or fight cancer. But as Science Feedback explained in a previous claim review, cancer is caused by mutations, not body acidity. And although a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—like the “alkaline diet”—may reduce risk factors for cancer like obesity, current evidence doesn’t suggest that it can directly prevent or treat cancer[2].


Alleged mechanisms for spontaneous remission of cancer remain poorly understood. While consuming vegetables and fruits is important for maintaining good health, there is currently no evidence indicating that particular dietary habits, like consuming a vegetable and fruit smoothie, can produce spontaneous remission of cancer. Forgoing clinically proven cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation in favor of purportedly curative diets can have harmful outcomes, including metastasis of cancer and death. .


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