Two Recent News Articles

Ann's NOTE: I am active with the Cochrane Collaboration a worldwide volunteer network interested in Evidence-based Healthcare (which is composed of studies, physician expertise and patient experiences and preferences).

I found this review which clearly states that Laetrile has never been studied in a controlled trial and thus we do not know for certain whether it does or does not work. Yet it is presented as an absolute. We NEED studies of alternative treatments. No one wants to waste their (our) precious resources of time and money in the wrong direction. But how can we trust opinions, especially when people in the world of 'integrative medicine' are able to show beneficial outcomes? With that in mind, a patient advocate known to me personally sent the following:

February 2010: "I heard about this (Vitamin B17) and a patient who had lung cancer took this, I donít know if he was cured, but I do know it helped him and prolonged his life.

Maybe this person is still alive, I donít know. When I was involved in his treatment he lived for at least 3 years, after doctors give him a maximum of 6 months. I was his interpreter".


Laetrile treatment for cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Milazzo S, Ernst E, Lejeune S, Schmidt K.

BACKGROUND: Laetrile is an unconventional therapy which has been used illegally for decades by cancer patients who together with some alternative therapists claim its effectiveness as an anti-cancer treatment. It has been often referred to as amygdalin, although the two are not the same.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this review was to assess the alleged anti-cancer effect and the possible harms of Laetrile as a sole or adjunctive therapy in cancer treatment.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL); MEDLINE (from 1951); EMBASE (from 1980); Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED), Scirus, CancerLit, CINAHL (all from 1982); CAMbase (from 1998); the MetaRegister; the National Research Register and our own files. No language restrictions were imposed.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and non randomized controlled clinical trials (non-RCTs).

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed trials for inclusion in the review, assessed study quality and extracted data.

MAIN RESULTS: No RCTs or non-RCTs were found, so no abstraction of outcome data could be performed in this systematic review

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The claim that Laetrile has beneficial effects for cancer patients is not supported by data from controlled clinical trials. This systematic review has clearly identified the need for randomised or controlled clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of Laetrile or amygdalin for cancer treatment.

PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: Laetrile treatment for cancerLaetrile is the name given to purified amygdalin, a chemical found in the nuts of many fruits such as peaches, bitter almonds and apricots. Laetrile has been widely used among cancer patients since the 1970s in the hope that it might stop or slow the process of the disease.

As there is uncertainty about whether Laetrile treatments work and there is also a risk of side effects from cyanide poisoning, the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) in the US and European Commission have banned its use. However, it is still possible for anyone to buy Laetrile products illegally on the Internet.

As there is no government control on these preparations they may come from questionable sources and be contaminated.The most informative way to understand whether Laetrile is of any use for treatment for cancer, is to review clinical trials and scientific publications.

Unfortunately no studies were found that met the inclusion criteria for this review.

The authors suggest that controlled clinical trials should be considered in the future in order to assess whether Laetrile is effective in cancer care.

Milazzo S, Ernst E, Lejeune S, Schmidt K.

Laetrile treatment for cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Reviews 2006 Issue 2 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd Chichester, UK DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005476.pub2

Researchers say cyanide could be cancer-killer [09/06/2000; Reuters News Service]

The deadly poison cyanide may have a role as a powerful cancer killer, British scientists said Wednesday. Researchers at London's Imperial College told a science meeting that they had harnessed a cyanide-generating system used by plants as a defense against insects and believed the mechanism could be developed to produce anti-cancer drugs.

Plants like the hydrangea and African potato contain an enzyme called linamarase that is capable of generating cyanide when they are damaged by animals or insects. The scientists believe they can attach that enzyme to a cancer-seeking antibody capable of recognizing a protein found only in certain cancers.

The method--known as AGENT (Antibody Guided Enzyme Nitrile Therapy)--would produce an agent that could potentially kill cancer cells and leave healthy tissue unharmed.


FDA cracks down on laetrile resurgence [09/07/2000; Cable News Network]

Federal health officials warned Internet users Wednesday to beware of a concoction made of apricot seeds that's touted as a cancer cure, as a Florida court case became the government's latest attempt to quell a resurgence of laetrile.

In the 1970s, thousands of patients went to Mexico seeking laetrile, and some doctors sold it in the United States, before a National Cancer Institute study concluded the substance did not fight cancer. Experts also warned that laetrile pills could cause cyanide poisoning.

So the Food and Drug Administration declared laetrile illegal. Several states fought the FDA action but courts backed the government, ending laetrile's heyday by 1980.

Now laetrile is rebounding on the Internet, sometimes sold under the aliases amygdalin or "vitamin B17."

Wednesday, the FDA announced that a U.S. District judge in Miami had issued a preliminary injunction halting sales by three Internet sites, and warned consumers to beware.

"We do not want people to take products that have not been proven to be safe and effective," said FDA enforcement chief John Taylor, saying the biggest worry is that patients will forego proven cancer therapy.

Ann's NOTE: Interestingly these two disparate articles appeared in the same week. In the first, it is noted that cyanide (supposed active ingredient in Laetrile) is shown to be a possible agent against cancer, while at the same time FDA is forcing stoppage of sales of this product on the Internet.

What do you think?

Laetrile site in the UK

Offering doctor & patient perspective and ordering information

Foods That Contain Amygdalin

Thanks to Leonard

More Information on Laetrile


German manufacturer for Vit B-17 Laetrile Amygdalin

LINK to source in Germany, powder, ampoules, tablets

Ralph Moss, PhD on Laetrile (radio interview)

From Laura Lee radio show, 1994

Apricot Power

LINK to site selling Apricot kernels

Hypoxis Rooperi (African Potato)

Just for your information

Our query to Mr. Irvine/His Response (10/3/02)
Arsenic Trioxide Induces Autophagic Cell Death

Oncogene, 12/04

Arsenic Compound & Leukemia (APL)
Laetrile Information from Australia

LINK to site with lots of information and a book

Laetrile Information Page

LINK to site maintained by cancer patient

Jason Vale's site

LINK: Jason cured himself, went to jail for five years and is now helping others again

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