A "wellness" guru who shot to fame after claiming she cured her terminal brain cancer with wholefoods and natural therapies has admitted she never had the disease.
Belle Gibson has confessed in an interview with Australian Women’s Weekly: "None of it's true."
"I don’t want forgiveness. I just think (speaking out) was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, 'OK, she's human'."
The 23-year-old's "wellness" empire, which included a best-selling mobile phone app called The Whole Pantry and a website and recipe book of the same name, is now foundering in the face of a fierce public backlash over her hoax.
Questions were already being raised about the blogger's claims when it emerged she had failed to donate thousands of dollars to charity she had promised with the cash raised through her success.
Gibson then revealed she had been "wrongly" diagnosed with other cancers she claimed to have including in her blood, spleen and liver, but continued to maintain her brain cancer was real.
She also refused to show journalists medical records or any proof to back her claims she had healed her brain cancer through diet and natural treatments alone.
The Women’s Weekly interview is the first time Gibson has spoken to the media since her cancer claims began to unravel.
The magazine said: "During the interviews, whenever challenged, Belle cried easily and muddled her words.
"She says she is passionate about avoiding gluten, dairy and coffee, but doesn’t really understand how cancer works."
Many of her millions of online followers have turned on her, feeling betrayed by her false claims, while critics argue she has put genuine cancer sufferers in danger by suggesting diet alone could successfully treat them.
Gibson is now being investigated by consumer affairs, while Apple has stopped offering her app for download, and Penguin has halted publication of her recipe book.
Meanwhile, the website news.com.au, which appears to have obtained more of the Women's Weekly interview, said she fails to explain in detail why she had lied about her condition but refers to her "troubled" childhood.
Gibson, who has been in hiding since her lies were exposed, says the public backlash against her has been “horrible”.
“In the last two years I have worked every single day living and raising up an online community of people who supported each other.
"I understand the confusion and the suspicion, but I also know that people need to draw a line in the sand where they still treat someone with some level of respect or humility - and I have not been receiving that," she is quoted as saying.
Her false illness claims date back to 2009, when she claimed on an internet forum to have undergone multiple heart surgeries and to have died on the operating table.
The media has also faced criticism for running articles about Gibson without checking her claims.