Greek cancer 'cure' sparks frenzy


Jan 31, 2007

The Greek health ministry is trying to dampen down growing hysteria over a supposed miracle cure for cancer that has led to one violent death.

Doctors have warned patients against taking the potion, which is a thick green drink made of olive leaves and water mixed in a blender.

Media coverage helped to spread the news across Greece over the past week.

A row between two brothers over whether to give a third brother the drink ended with one stabbing the other to death.

The health ministry's anger over the elixir is mainly directed at populist TV chat shows that have featured elderly cancer sufferers telling viewers of their recovery after drinking the "medicine".

Even though olive trees are very common in Greece, profiteers have been convincing patients to spend up to 60 euros for a kilo of the special leaves.

The Central Medical Council has warned that the potion has not been tested.

It is concerned that sufferers will abandon conventional medicine and die as a result.

Scientists said only doctors could prove or disprove the benefits of such a drink, and that years of analysis would be needed to come to a conclusion.

A heart surgeon and former health minister, Dimitris Kremastinos, told Greek media that when such an issue led to murder, the frenzy had become uncontrollable.

''In this country where charlatans thrive, you are whatever you claim to be.''