Fact-check: Guava leaves cannot cure tumours 

Fact-check: Guava leaves cannot cure tumours 

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Even if the tumour is benign, there is possibility of it becoming premalignant and then malignant. 

By Sharmila Saha Roy

Guava leaves have been a part of traditional medicine in many parts of the world. Rich in vitamin C, iron, antioxidants and antimicrobial properties, they are believed to provide relief from a wide range of health issues. A viral YouTube video (in Hindi), for instance, claims that guava leaves can make tumours vanish instantly.

Can consuming guava leaves or applying guava leaf paste externally treat tumours? Also, as the video mentions, is a tumour essentially is a lump of fat? 

Let’s answer the second question first. A tumour is a solid mass of tissue that forms when abnormal cells group together. They can affect the bones, skin, tissue, organs and glands. Not all tumours are malignant or cancerous; many are benign. However, some can be premalignant or malignant. 

Only through medical investigation and tests such as MRI, CT scan, ultrasound and/ biopsy can an accurate diagnosis be made. Even if the tumour is benign, there is possibility of it becoming premalignant and then malignant. It is prudent to monitor any growth.

“A tumour should be diagnosed by a surgeon to identify the category of the tumour first. The treatment depends on the diagnosis. Sometimes, it is necessary to surgically remove the tumour,” says Dr Shimna Azeez, a public health professional and writer based in Kerala, India.

She cautions against the adoption of unscientific practices such as consuming and applying guava leaf in order to cure a tumour. “External application of any paste or consuming guava leaf boiled in water cannot cure tumours. But they can worsen the problem, if there’s a delay in seeking medical advice,” she maintains. 

While there are studies exploring the possible role that guava leaf extracts may play in cancer treatment in the future, there is no conclusive evidence as of now. We need clinical trials in humans to better understand its potential as well as the possible risks. 

It's important to remember that “natural” treatments are not always safe; dosages can be a crucial factor. Self-treatment can have fatal effects, particularly when it comes to chronic diseases like cancer.