No, Vitamin C and lemon-infused hot water do not protect against coronavirus or cancer

A viral message claiming to be from a certain Laila Ahmadi from China, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Zanjan University advises the use of Vitamin C “as much as possible” for the novel coronavirus. It also claims that a certain Professor Chen Horin, CEO of the Beijing Military Hospital, said, “Slices of lemon in a cup of lukewarm water can save your life.”

Important Letter Regarding Corona Virus

Hello, I’m Laila Ahmadi from China, student at the Faculty of Medical Sciences…

Posted by Bolo House Music on Friday, 6 March 2020

Several other claims have been raised in the message which are listed below.

CLAIMS

1. Message from Laila Ahmadi, The Faculty of Medical sciences, Zanjan university, China. Quotes from Professor Chen Horin, CEO of Beijing military hospital.

2. The novel coronavirus is the result of a gene fusion between a snake and a bat.

3. Both the HIV virus and the coronavirus spread by direct contact and people should avoid touching the infected.

4. Using a large amount of Vitamin C gets rid of the novel coronavirus.

5. Hot lemon can cure all cancers. The acids and carboxylic acids contained in lemon juice can regulate high blood pressure, protect narrow arteries, regulate blood circulation and reduce blood clotting.

6. There is currently no vaccine and treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Dt Chen Horin & cancer
THE MIRACLE OF LEMON JUICE

Good evening good to know even at this time
Remedy

“Pieces of…

Posted by America -NEWS on Friday, 1 February 2019

VERDICT

False

FACT-CHECK

1. Message from partly fictitious persons viral

Zanjan University is not located in China but in Iran. Leila Ahmadi is an author of a research paper from Zanjan University, Iran, in the area of reproductive health, rather than infectious diseases. There is also no reason to believe that Ahmadi is indeed the author of the message attributed to her. We could neither find her social media profile where the message might have been shared or any media reports featuring the same. Her research gate profile describes her as an instructor of Reproductive Health, Department of Midwifery and has not detailed any other skills.

Professor Chen Horin is a fictitious character claimed to be from the Beijing Military hospital. He seemingly suggests that lemon has anti-cancer properties. Alt News Science found that the image used in the Facebook post is of a real person named Professor Frank Chen Youhua, a Professor of Management Sciences, City University of Hong Kong.

Also, the YouTube video linked in the Facebook post is of a different ‘Chen’ from the photo in the Facebook post. The one from the YouTube video is an American researcher from the ‘National Cancer Institute, and his real identity is Dr Li-Chuan-Chen, Phd.

Thus, both identities Laila Ahmadi and Chen Horin are partly fictitious and our research suggests that the real ‘Ahmadi’ and ‘Chen’ do not have the expertise to make such claims.

2. The novel coronavirus is not the result of a gene fusion between a snake and a bat.

Viruses are not made by gene fusion of two animals. As far as the origins of COVID-19 is concerned, it is likely that the infected bats and/or pangolins from the wet livestock market of Wuhan are the original source of the virus.

3. HIV virus does not spread by direct contact with the infected. 

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) transmits mainly via respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough, or exhale, in addition to touching contaminated surfaces or people and subsequently touch the face.

HIV does not spread by touching. It can spread by unprotected sex, transfusion of blood contaminated with HIV and from a mother to the child during gestation and delivery.

4. No evidence that using a large amount of Vitamin C gets rid of the novel coronavirus.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which protects the body against oxidative challenges. A review analysis (Carr & Maggini, 2017) suggests that for the prophylactic prevention of infection, the human body requires a dietary dose of vitamin C levels between 100-200 mg/day. However, another review (Biancatelli, 2020) argues that there are limited evidence-based clinical trials to conclusively support this contention.

Vitamin C infusion is currently being tried for treatment of Severe 2019-nCoV infected pneumonia in a randomized clinical trial registered by Professor Zhi-Yong Peng Zhongnan Hospital, Wuhan, China (identifier number NCT04264533 at ClinicalTrials.gov). However, the results are pending.

5. Lemon cannot cure all cancers or regulate high blood pressure, protect narrow arteries, regulate blood circulation and reduce blood clotting.

The claim that hot lemon cures cancer is an old piece of misinformation that resurfaces from time to time. It has been adequately debunked by Africa Check in 2019, David Mikkelson at Snopes in 2011, and Brett M. Christensen at Hoax Slayer in 2018.

There is no catch-all cure for cancer as it is a single name for many diseases. Cancer can arise from many causes including gene mutations at random, mutations caused by external agents such as radiation and smoking, infections such as papilloma wart virus that causes cervical cancer, and also genetics such as the inheritable BRCA1 gene responsible for breast cancer.

There is no evidence that Vitamin C has any therapeutic role in the regulation of blood pressure and blood clotting.

6. There is currently no vaccine and treatment for the novel coronavirus.

Currently, antivirals such as Remdesivir (developed by Gilead Sciences) are being tried on confirmed COVID-19 patients. Remdesivir, an investigative antiviral, hasn’t shown any conclusive efficacy in coronavirus infections, however, the drug was used previously during the Ebola epidemic in humans, and in animal models of MERS and SARS infections. Antivirals are a class of drugs which act against viruses and can only be prescribed by healthcare providers, which are distinct from antibiotics used for bacterial infections. Kaletra is an anti-HIV drug (a combination of protease inhibitors- lopinavir and ritonavir) which has been reported in the successful treatment of some COVID-19 cases in Australia. A similar treatment for the viral infection using some unspecified anti-HIV drugs has also been reported in Rajasthan.

There are no vaccines approved for coronavirus therapy. A vaccine made out of mRNA called BNT162 developed by Germany’s BioNTech will start trials in late April as per media reports. There is another mRNA vaccine called mRNA-1273 manufactured by Moderna (member of BioNTech) and has begun trials in Seattle. However, the treatment and vaccine are just starting out for testing. It is not clear whether the patients will respond effectively or have any changes of curing, nor do we know that the vaccine will provide rigorous immunity against the infection.

Currently, symptomatic treatment has been given for reducing fever, cough and dehydration.

CONCLUSION

This viral message is a combination of an old post about lemons attributed to Professor Chen and a new piece of misinformation attributed to Laila Ahmadi. All characters were found to be fictitious, while the real names, images and videos attributed to Ahmadi and Chen were found to be of people from different unrelated places, without any expertise to comment on the subject.

It is also very dangerous to circulate that certain components of a normal diet can be consumed in excess. Taking high doses of Vitamin C can cause renal stones, nausea, vomiting, occult rectal bleeding, dental decalcification and rebound scurvy in infants born to women taking high doses.

Claims of cancer panacea are also dangerous as they keep the patients from seeking actual medical care. The viral message stigmatises HIV-positive people as untouchables and perpetuates the taboo that makes life much harder for them.

Viral texts that advocate reliance on unproven treatments, and quotes from seemingly real experts, have the propensity to drive people away from modern medical care, precautions and practices that actually work.

REFERENCES

Carr, A. C., & Maggini, S. (2017). Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients, 9(11), 1211.

Colunga Biancatelli, R.M.L., Berrill, M., & Marik, P.E. (2020).The antiviral properties of vitamin C.

https://www.fiercebiotech.com/biotech/weeks-to-go-to-covid-19-vaccine-trial-biontech-lands-135m-deal-and-advances-pfizer-talks

https://www.biospace.com/article/moderna-s-covid-19-vaccine-clinical-trial-starts-today/

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-clinical-trial-remdesivir-treat-covid-19-begins

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