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People from Hunza are not cancer-free due to apricot seeds

A viral video makes false and misleading claims about the Hunza people and the benefits of apricot seeds

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Claim: A viral video posted on Instagram and Facebook claims the people from Hunza never get cancer, the average age among them used to be 160, apricot seeds can prevent cancer,, and that their broken bones heal in days, and they don’t get wrinkles.

Fact: The video is full of false and misleading claims that are not supported by scientific evidence or reliable sources. There is no proof that people from Hunza are cancer-free or that they live exceptionally long lives. Apricot seeds do not prevent or cure cancer, but can be harmful due to their cyanide content.

The video claims that people from Hunza, who live in a valley in northern Pakistan, are the healthiest and longest-living people in the world. It attributes their alleged longevity and immunity to cancer to their consumption of apricot seeds, which supposedly contain vitamin B17 that kills cancer cells. It also claims that women in Hunza do not get wrinkles because they apply apricot oil on their skin, that locals treat apricot seeds like money, that their average age used to be 160 before they were “discovered” by the outside world, that their average age is now 90, and that their broken bones heal in three days.

Fact or Fiction?

The Hunza people are an ethnic group that inhabits the Hunza Valley, a mountainous region in the Gilgit-Baltistan province of northern Pakistan. They speak various dialects of the Burushaski language, as well as Urdu and English. They are predominantly Ismaili Muslims, a branch of Shia Islam. They are known for their distinct culture, traditions, and hospitality. They have also attracted attention for their alleged longevity and health, which have been the subject of many myths and legends.

Soch Fact Check investigated the claims made in the video and found them to be false or misleading. We’ll subsequently go over the specific claims mentioned in the video in question. This is not the first time that the claim that Hunza people do not get cancer because they eat apricot seeds has been circulated online.

A similar claim was made in a viral meme image that featured a woman holding a tray of apricots. This meme image has been debunked by multiple fact-checking organisations, such as AFP Fact Check, AAP Fact Check and Lead Stories. These fact-checks have also shown that there is no evidence that apricot seeds prevent or treat cancer and that they can actually be harmful due to their cyanide content.

Claim: People from Hunza never get cancer

There is no evidence that people from Hunza are cancer-free or have a lower incidence of cancer than other populations. On the contrary, there are recorded cases of cancer among the Hunza people dating back several decades. According to an article by Dr David Greenberg published in the journal Cancer in 1979, countless cases of cancer have been recorded in the region.

The article debunks myths about the Hunza Valley inhabitants being immune to cancer. In the book ‘Personality and Health in Hunza Valley’ (1963), Kinji Imanishi reports that Japanese researchers found at least 10 cases of cancer among the people living in the Hunza Valley during a 1955 expedition.

Claim: Average age among peope in Hunza used to be 160

There is no credible evidence that Hunza people live exceptionally long lives or have an average age of 160 or even 90. In the same book, Kinji Imanishi mentions he found signs of malnutrition and poor health among the inhabitants.

Claim: Apricot seeds prevent or cure cancer

Apricot seeds do not contain vitamin B17, but a substance called amygdalin, which is also found in other plants. Amygdalin or its synthetic form laetrile has been promoted as an alternative treatment for cancer, but there is no scientific proof that it works. In fact, amygdalin or laetrile can be harmful because it contains cyanide, which can cause serious side effects such as fever, headache, nerve damage or death. Consuming more than three apricot kernels could exceed the safe consumption levels for cyanide, according to the European Food Safety Authority.

Claim: Women in Hunza do not get wrinkles because they apply apricot oil on their skin

There is no scientific evidence that apricot oil prevents or reduces wrinkles. Moreover, wrinkles are influenced by various factors such as genetics, sun exposure, smoking, diet and stress, which cannot be reversed by applying oil.

Claim: People in Hunza treat apricot seeds like money

Apricots are a staple food for people in Hunza, who use them for various purposes such as eating, drying, making jam or oil, or feeding animals. However, it is not true that they treat apricot seeds like money. According to a report by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Hunza people also grow other crops such as wheat, barley, maize, potatoes and fruits, and engage in other economic activities such as tourism, trade, handicrafts and livestock. Apricot seeds are not a currency or a commodity that can be easily exchanged for goods or services in the region.

Claim: When people in Hunza started having contact with the outside world after being “discovered”, their average age came down to 90

As explained above, there is no evidence that the population of Hunza had an average age of 160 or 90 before or after being “discovered” by the outside world. The claim that Hunza was isolated from the rest of the world until the 1970s is also false. People from Hunza have had contact with other cultures and civilizations for centuries, through trade, migration, and politics, proven by the fact that a Japanese expedition in the 1950s was able to collect data on their health and wellbeing.

Claim: People from Hunza’s broken bones heal in three days

There is no scientific basis for this claim. The healing process of broken bones depends on various factors such as the type and severity of the fracture, the age and health of the person, and the treatment received. According to the Mayo Clinic, most fractures take several weeks to months to heal completely. There is no reason to believe that Hunza people have a faster or different bone healing mechanism than other humans.

Virality

The video in question was posted on Instagram by users @currentseaflows on 5 June 2023. It has received more than 250,000 likes. The same video was also posted by Instagram user @vogical on 18 June 2023. This post was shared more than 15,000 times and received more than 17,000 likes.

It was also posted on Facebook here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. These posts received over 200,000 likes and shares.

We also found articles published by various websites repeating the same claim here, here, and here.

Conclusion: The video posted on Instagram and Facebook making a number of claims about the health and wellness of the Hunza people is full of false and misleading claims that are not supported by scientific evidence or reliable sources.

 

To appeal our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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