With surprising regularity, in response to the answers I give on Quora about cancer related questions, I get pointed in the direction of Urine Therapy. So, what is Urine Therapy and can it cure cancer?

Urine therapy, as it pertains to being a cure for cancer, is when urine is either drunk, massaged into the skin, or, in some cases, injected, in an effort to cure cancer.

While there have been records of urine being used as a medicine in many cultures over many centuries, the current field of urine therapy has much more recent roots. In 1944, John W. Armstrong, published The Water of Life: A treatise on urine therapy.

Armstrong was diagnosed with Tuberculosis during the First World War. Two years of medical treatment did nothing for him, so he took matters into his own hands. Armstrong, ‘started a course of urine therapy and was cured within two months’. Basically, he undertook a 45 day fast, where he drank nothing but tap water and his own urine.

Armstrong’s decision to undertake this treatment was based on his own family’s practices of using urine to treat stings and toothaches. This practice stemmed from their interpretation of a passage from the Bible, Proverbs 5:15:

“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well”

https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-5-15.html

The general consensus of opinion, among Bible scholars, is that this passage refers to faithfulness within marriage. There is also some suggestion that it is more literal and means not to take other people’s water. Finally, there is the opinion that the ‘waters’ in question are the Holy Spirit and imply an imbibing of faith. You’ll notice that there is no mention of drinking urine as a therapy for cancer, or anything else…

Not that I know much about the Bible.
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

Anyway, The Water of Life then documents his use of urine therapy to treat 1,000s of patients in the years that follow. The jacket of the 1971 edition of the The Water of Life includes the following:

In this revolutionary treatise, John W. Armstrong puts the compelling case that all diseases (except those caused by traumatism or structural disorders) can be cured by one simple means… human urine.

https://www.bookdepository.com/Water-Life-John-W-Armstrong/9780091906603

As cancer is a disease, this is saying that human urine, in the form of urine therapy, can cure cancer.

The Water of Life sold far and wide. It did particularly well in India, where variations of urine therapy had long been used. It led to the publication of Manav mootra, in 1959, by Raojibhai Manibhai Patel. This, in turn, led to many subsequent books, which linked Armstrong’s urine therapy back to a Yogic (Indian spiritual practices) and Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) texts.

And so this idea of Armstrong’s, who was British and very much of the West, was picked up in India where it was re-imagined with Eastern philosophy. It is now being re-purposed as an Eastern concept, for consumption in the West.

You will probably not be shocked to hear that there is no scientific evidence to indicate that urine therapy can cure cancer. Wikipedia has urine therapy listed as ‘Alternative and Pseudo Science’.

So, what would you expect to find in urine?

And, while I concede that I’m not a Biologist, I don’t see how any of this could act as a cure for anything, let alone cancer. The 1971 edition of Water of Life had this to say on the matter:

It may seem strange to take back into the body something that it is apparently discarding. Yet the theory is similar to the natural practice of organic composting. Fallen leaves, dug back into the soil, provide valuable mineral salts to nourish new plant life. The same principle holds true for the human body.

https://www.bookdepository.com/Water-Life-John-W-Armstrong/9780091906603
That’s a lot of… compost!
By Crystalclear – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2544361

Is it the same, though? Is it really the same!?

I would suggest not.

Mainly because all the traces of hormones, antibodies and enzymes are already in the body. That’s how they got into the urine in the first place!

Urea may actually have a hydrating benefit to the skin. That said, urea is also an irritant to the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Further, high concentrations of urea in the blood can be damaging. If you want a moisturiser, can I suggest E45?

Uris Acid, in high concentrations in the blood, can lead to Gout. You don’t want gout!

If you want glucose, protein, water, phosphate and salt, you can get that from virtually any meal you like. In much higher concentrations.

And for those of you thinking, “What’s the harm, urine is sterile?!”

Nope!

Urine is sterile when it leaves the kidneys, no argument there. But then it gets stored in the bladder, before exiting the body via the urethra. You know what lives in the urethra? STDs and UTIs, that’s what. So, if your urethra is as clean as a whistle, your urine will be sterile. If not, then the urine passing through it will, very much, not be sterile in the slightest.

And, quite frankly, if neat urine can’t even cure you of an STD or UTI, why would anyone ever believe that urine therapy could cure cancer?!

This may be why I couldn’t even find reference to urine therapy on the Cancer Research UK site, which is where I usually start my research on posts like this. The American Cancer Society, however, does refer to Urotherapy, where is states:

No well-controlled studies published in available scientific literature support the claims that urotherapy can control or reverse the spread of cancer.

https://web.archive.org/web/20140725232444/http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/pharmacologicalandbiologicaltreatment/urotherapy

To be fair and balanced, this page also says, “Two small studies done during the 1980s found urea did not cause tumors to shrink in patients with cancer in the liver.

Sample of Urea in the form of granules.
By LHcheM – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18673771

In relation to the above, I found a paper called, Oral urea in the treatment of secondary tumours in the liver. Included here was the following:

Twenty patients with secondary liver tumours, predominantly from colorectal carcinoma, were treated with oral urea at a daily dose of 8 gm-2. Treatment was well tolerated without side-effects. No objective responses were seen. It is concluded that oral urea is ineffective in the treatment of liver metastases from colorectal cancer.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2246510/

Well, at least I know that I don’t have to consider urine therapy next time I get a recurrence

Generally speaking, in my experience, anything that claims it can cure everything, pretty well turns out not to be able to actually cure anything. This is snake oil territory. This is Alternative Medicine territory. And, for those who don’t know, I really don’t like the Alt Pharma industry.

On the face of it, urine therapy might seem harmless. After all, it’s just drinking you own urine; surely that’s free?! And so it is, right up to the point that you decide to go to a ‘retreat’. where desperate, and often terminal, patients, are parted from as much of their money as humanly possible.

And let me just reiterate: there is no scientific evidence to support drinking your own urine.

I have no doubt that in times gone past, in the absence of any alternatives, urine was worth a try as a medicine. It might be some good as a placebo, if nothing else. Today, this is not the case. Urine therapy has no place in the modern World, and certainly not being touted as a cure for cancer.