The first edition of New Scientist this year has an article (Hobohm, 2014) about the practice of ‘fever therapy’ for cancer, used by US surgeon William Coley from around 1900 up until his death in 1936. Bacterial extracts were used to infect cancer sufferers and induce a fever with considerable efficacy in reducing tumours. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy led to the treatment falling out of favour but since then many population studies have supported the beneficial effects of fever related to cancer.

Although a fascinating theory, it’s unlikely to be adopted by mainstream medicine. What I take from this is the ultimate importance of supporting healthy immune function in preventing and aiding the body’s response to cancer. A diet high in fresh veg, healthy fats, low in sugar and processed carbohydrates will support immune function. For an extra boost there are many plants that support healthy immune function – Echinacea is the one that most people think of but Chinese mushrooms and other ‘adaptogenic’ herbs such as ashwaganda and Siberian ginseng are very supportive.


Hobohm, U (2014) Hot, toxic and healing. New Scientist, 2950, pp.26-7 .