Nanchang - A sixty-year-old man in east China's Jiangxi Province claims that he has gradually recovered from liposarcoma - malignant tumors found in the tissue of fat cells - and stomach ulcers after eating sand for 18 years.

Sheng Shoudong, a cleaner at a food market in Shaxi town, Shangrao City, began to eat about four spoonfuls of sand a day from 1988 after he read a newspaper article in a local newspaper about a man who had recovered from cancer after eating sand.

"I suffered from the pain of the sarcomas and ulcer, and was forced to give up my job. I badly needed a drastic remedy," said Sheng said recently on "Approaching Science", a program at Channel 10 of China Central Television.

"I went down to the river and gathered up a bucket of sand. I washed it with water from the nearby well and poured it into a breakfast bowl.

"I ate a spoonful of the sand, washed it down with water and then chewed through another. I actually really enjoyed the taste," he said.

Two years later, tests showed that Sheng's tumors had shrunk and he felt well enough to resume his work as a cleaner.

Sheng's neighbors in Xiangyang village were amazed to see his new eating habit.

"When we first saw Sheng washing sand by the well, we thought he was a maniac. But as soon as we realized he was getting better and returned to work, we were clamoring to find out the secret recipe."

A recent health check at the Shangrao No.1 Hospital showed that Sheng was in a good condition apart from suffering from a mild gastric ulcer, renal problems and several small sarcomas.

"Sand can not provide nutrition or energy for the human body and it would be unscientific to say that eating sand can cure sickness. Anyway, eating clean sand certainly doesn't harm the alimentary canal," said Zheng Yaoquan, dean of the hospital.

Some medical experts suspected Sheng might also suffer from parorexia, an abnormal appetite that inspires a craving for items unsuitable for eating.