Does Laetrile (Amygdalin or Vitamin B-17) Work as an Alternative Cancer Cure?

Does Laetrile (Amygdalin or Vitamin B-17) Work as an Alternative Cancer Cure?


“Does Laetrile (Amygdalin or Vitamin B-17)
Work as an Alternative Cancer Cure?” Amygdalin, quackery or cure? Amygdalin is a cyanide-containing
compound found in apple seeds, but 10 times more concentrated in the seeds of peaches,
apricots, and bitter almonds. It can be sold as a
derivative called laetrile, advertised with the
misnomer “vitamin B-17.” It gained popularity
among cancer patients as an alternative treatment
in the 1970s, but the reason there’s this 2016 review and the
reason I’m doing videos about it is that it’s experienced a
renaissance thanks to the internet. Back then, all the FDA could do was
send out a bulletin to a million doctors and other health professionals, warning them that laetrile is not
only worthless but dangerous. Ten thousand copies were
made for posting in post offices. The New York Times editorialized
that people should be able to choose their own placebo, but the
stuff was killing people. Finally, as the New England
Journal of Medicine reported it, the “Supreme Court Stops the Nonsense,” with Thurgood Marshall writing the
unanimous court opinion that terminally ill patients deserve the same
FDA protections against unsafe drugs, and it was banned on a federal level. Rational argument failed to dissuade
people, and so the state stepped in, but that had the opposite effect with
cancer victims and their families accusing the government and mainstream
medicine of a grand conspiracy. At an FDA meeting, for example, an
M.D. Anderson doc rhetorically asked, “Surely you can’t believe that the
quarter of a million American physicians are sitting on a cancer cure
just so they can get rich?” He was answered with a chorus
of yeses from the audience. Who was getting rich were
some of the laetrile advocates, like the head of the Committee for
Freedom of Choice in Cancer Therapy, committed to the freedom of pocketing
millions a year in laetrile sales. Laetrile’s proponents consider it
to be a “natural cancer cure,” whereas opponents consider it
the slickest, most sophisticated, and certainly the most remunerative,
the most lucrative, profitable cancer quack promotion
in medical history. But you don’t know which
until you put it to the test. The National Cancer Institute, in
response to widespread public interest, undertook a retrospective
analysis of laetrile treatment. In other words, they sent a letter
out to every physician in the country, plus tens of thousands of
other health professionals, contacted all the pro-laetrile
groups and basically said, look, send us the best you got. Although it is estimated that at least
70,000 Americans had used the stuff, only 93 cases were
submitted for evaluation, and of those only six appeared
to be legit, where taking laetrile was associated with at least
some partial improvement. Now, of course, the people sending
in those reports may have gotten things wrong or just made
stuff up, falsified data, but hey, maybe those six actually
did respond to the treatment. If that’s out of 70,000
treated, though, you’d think maybe
that’d just be by chance? But hey, the fact that so many people
tried it should count for something. Yes, they may have all
just been boondoggled, but maybe there’s
something to it. Certainly, the fact that it didn’t seem
to help with any of the laboratory animal cancers doesn’t mean
it still couldn’t work in people. The only way to know for sure
is to put it to the test: a clinical trial performed in
“competent and experienced hands.” The Mayo Clinic
accepted the challenge. One hundred seventy-eight cancer
patients were treated with it and all the patients died rapidly. No substantive benefit was observed
in terms of cure, improvement, or even stabilization of cancer,
nor improvement of symptoms, nor extension of life span. Only adverse effects
of cyanide toxicity. Conclusion: Amygdalin,
laetrile, is a toxic drug that is not effective
as a cancer treatment. The books then were closed
on it for more than 30 years. Laetrile doesn’t work:
unsafe and ineffective. No sound evidence that laetrile is
effective as an anticancer agent. So the label “unproven” cancer remedy
may be too generous at this point. It is time to vehemently assert that laetrile cancer therapy
has been disproven.