Cancer Act 1939

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The Cancer Act 1939 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed in 1939 to make further provision for the treatment of cancer, to authorise the Minister of Health to lend money to the National Radium Trust, to prohibit certain advertisements relating to cancer, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid. The Act does not apply in Northern Ireland.

As of December 2014, the sole remaining provision is in respect of advertising to treat or cure cancer, all other provisions having been repealed or subsumed into other legislation.


The Act's most notable provision is a clause prohibiting taking any part in publication, except under specified conditions, of advertisements that "offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof". Prosecutions do take place, but are rare.[1]

The expression “advertisement” includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, and any announcement made orally or by any means of producing or transmitting sounds.

The Act provides for exceptions in making material available to registered medical and nursing personnel and pharmacists, and for material produced by hospitals and local authorities.

Prosecutions under the Act[edit]

According to an answer given in the House of Commons on 12 June 2014[2] there were 21 convictions under the Act between 1984 and 2013, since that date there have been another three.

Convictions include:

  • Steven Cook, fined £750[3] with costs of £1,500 in September 2014 for implying that colloidal silver could cure for cancer - the case was brought by Essex Trading Standards
  • Stephen Ferguson, fined £1,750[4] with £2,500 costs and £120 victim surcharge in May 2014 for claiming that protein shakes and vitamin supplements had cured cancer in two of his patients - case brought by Westminster Trading Standards
  • Errol Denton, fined £1,000[5] for each of 9 offences, with costs of £9,821 and a victim surcharge of £100 in March 2014 for claiming that live blood analysis, lifestyle changes and herbs could cure cancer[6] - case brought by Westminster Trading Standards
  • Adrian Pengelly, fined £600[7] with £2,000 costs and £15 victim surcharge in March 2010 for offering distance healing to cure cancer - case brought by Hereford Trading Standards
  • Donna Sims, given a two-year conditional discharge[8] with costs of £1,100 in August 2009 for offering herbal remedies for cancer - case brought by Gloucestershire Trading Standards
  • Healthwize UK, fined £2,000[9] with £2,235 costs in March 2009 for selling ellagic acid with claims that it could inhibit the growth of cancer cells - case brought by Derbyshire Trading Standards
  • Andrew Harris, who sold Triamazon via the Internet, received a two-year conditional discharge[10] with £350 costs in September 2008 - case brought by Trafford Trading Standards


  1. ^ "Harley Street practitioner claimed he could cure cancer and HIV with lifestyle changes and herbs, court hears". Daily Telegraph. 11 December 2013. 
  2. ^ "Cancer: Justice". They Work For You. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Man is fined after selling "cancer cure" which he made at home". Chelmsford Weekly News. 15 September 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  4. ^ De Graaf, Mia (6 May 2014). "Bodybuilder turned Harley Street nutritionist fined for claiming he could cure cancer with diet and fitness techniques". Daily Mail. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Trading Standards: cancer cure claims prosecuted". City of Westminster. 23 July 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "Harley Street practitioner claimed he could cure cancer and HIV with lifestyle changes and herbs, court hears". The Telegraph. 11 December 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  7. ^ Sweetman, Elizabeth (12 March 2010). "Cancer "healer" to pay thousands - court". Worcester News. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Dursley woman pleads guilty over ‘magick’ cancer remedy". Stroud News & Journal. 3 August 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  9. ^ "Breaston firm fined for illegal cancer claims". Nottingham Post. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Pill salesman convicted over £500 ‘cancer cure’". Metro. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 16 November 2014. 

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